Target – Corporate Hubris Is Alive And Well!

Say  noCorporate hubris never fails to leave me in awe.  (http://www.investopedia.com/terms/h/hubris.asp)

Case in point: Target Canada’s spectacular and very public implosion, leaving 17 000 people out of work.

It wasn’t the cashier who aided the demise, it wasn’t the guy on the loading dock, it wasn’t the sales “associate” looking for stock to stack on the empty shelves. No. This debacle came from the top. It came from the boardroom.

Target isn’t the first to crumble due to top heavy wastes of office space and salary. Look to the south of our Canadian border, the fall of the financial institutions. That disaster was a total boardroom design and operation.

An MBA does not translate to business know-how; it simply means the holder is able to retain certain forms of information. Doesn’t mean they actually know how to apply it in the real world.

Corporations are like organized crime; they hire from within their own little clique. Ability has nothing to do with these decisions. I’m in the corporate milieu; I see it daily and it is terrifying.

Consider the corporation as a physical entity for a few moments; you have your foundation, it’s strong enough for its current design but then you decide your friend needs a room, so you add one. Then another friend needs a room and you add that…pretty soon, your whole family, group of friends and your elementary, high school and university alumni want in. You keep building up, adding excess weight without paying attention to the foundation (your employees). The walls start to buckle because there is too little to carry the dead weight above.

The additions do not fit the initial intended use of the building; snap, crackle and ka-boom, down it comes. Luckily, the highest storied folks have golden parachutes to cushion their fall; sadly, the foundation (the ACTUAL workers) are crushed by the debris and then walked over, as the privileged parachuted ones leave the scene of their crime.

Members of a board are continually trying to validate themselves to the other members, to the chair people and to the stockholders. They use meta-speak to disguise the nonsense they are trying to pass as information.

They come up with plans while sitting poolside or while waiting for their turn to tee-off. Best laid plans…look great on paper but as they have no hands-on experience at the foundation level, they do nothing more than weaken the building further.

The LEAN/Kaizen thing is a great example. All the responsibility rests on the shoulders of the “foundation” – the employees; the methods leave the workers, if followed to the letter, of little more importance than the stapler placed in its designated spot on a desk. Yes – Lean/Kaizen do recommend that each item on the desk have “designated” spot and that there should be no personal items in view.

So, let’s see the psychology behind this…make your employees feel like nothing more than pencil lead, underpay and overwork them – constantly nag at them to up their bar and then wonder why the whole machine starts to run off the rail, until there is an inevitable crash.

In order to make a corporation viable, in order to make the shareholders do happy dances to their stockbrokers? It is necessary to use common business sense and an I.Q; apparently, if one looks to the global corporate world, you realize common business sense and I.Q’s are very hard to find…

Common sense, common courtesy demands that each person be afforded a sense of individuality along with the support to strive toward a goal, WITH expectation of reward. The carrot is a lot more powerful than the stick and infinitely more powerful than apathy.

The foundation needs to have a voice; this is where the real issues surface, the issues that chip away and break down a business model but hey…actually expect the V.P’s of Personal Hygiene Product Purchase to mingle or listen to the great unwashed? Ridiculous notion. Pass the cake.

The business world is changing; the people toiling in the bowels of the buildings have known this for years.

Change can’t afford to be “eased into the boardroom”, not with an expectation of continued financial viability. Change has to be fast, it has to be efficient and it has to be ruthless.

The spare parts in the corner offices need to be shoveled out. A real look at methods and operations has to be done, not by committee who are only interested in prolonging and protecting their own positions but by listening to the workers, by understanding that the corner office job is not necessary due to the tremendous leaps in software development, due to the advances in communication methods at a minimal cost.

Watch for more crumbling structures, particularly in the retail but not exclusively; you’ll see it happen in all the sectors – as long as the corporate world believes a pyramid is best constructed upside down, with the top expenditures heavier than the support on the bottom tier? Our fiscal future is in a very precarious position, with no real light ahead as the boardroom denizens try to protect their own hides at the expense of those who truly pay their salaries…their employees.

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