Why do senior executives dutifully submit to annual physical exams but don’t take the same kind of pre-emptive approach to the organizations they run? That is the question with which former senior corporate executive Robert A. Rudzki opens “Beat the Odds,” a new book that offers a nine-element framework for diagnosing an organization’s health and achieving organizational excellence.
The book starts with the well-recognized fact that the odds are stacked against corporations surviving for more than a few decades. “The inescapable conclusion is that there are factors that limit a corporation’s life expectancy,” he says.
No company is created to fail. But Rudzki points out that as the organization matures and the founders leave, its leaders can easily lose touch with its origins. With growing size and complexity, the focus shifts to managing complexity and away from leading for the future.
As a senior officer at a longtime U.S. manufacturing conglomerate that eventually collapsed, Rudzki often saw the neglect of key principles laid out in “Beat the Odds.” He also observed the many destructive behaviors that acted like cancerous cells on the overall health of the organization. And he knew that the stakes were becoming higher for companies trying to succeed in an increasingly volatile global economy. So Rudzki set out to develop a practical approach to addressing the factors that drive organizational excellence over the long term.
“Beat the Odds” is about building a resilient organization. It describes a fundamental framework that, if consistently addressed and applied as part of strategic guidance, will help to ensure long-term viability and success regardless of changing economic, financial, regulatory, and technology factors.
The book’s nine-part framework emphasizes frequently ignored qualitative elements such as “purpose” and a get-it-done attitude, as well as defined skills and quantitative metrics. Each of the nine framework elements includes a clear description of the principle itself along with an “honor roll” of companies that use it consciously and well. Also included are examples of “dog house” companies that have, consciously or unconsciously, neglected to work with the principle and experienced the consequences. Over 60 organizations are used as specific examples, including Amazon.com, Apple, Bright Horizons, Cisco Systems, Disney, Kodak, HP, ITT, KFC, Merck, Novartis, Procter & Gamble, Siemens, Starbucks and Tyco. Each framework chapter closes with a “Yes, But…” section that cites some of the classic arguments with which resistant senior managers may push back, along with a recommended response.
“Beat the Odds” then walks the reader through three real-life case studies. These lively “inside stories” illustrate how energized and aligned leadership teams can harness the framework to secure their organizations’ long-term success.
The last part of the book provides the prescriptive steps that will help generate the necessary insights and apply the nine principles. This section includes detailed but easy-to-use assessment and diagnostic templates that readers can begin to apply immediately. The tools are designed to give corporate leadership and managers deep insights into their organization’s underlying challenges along with the factual basis for corrective action.