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Power is nothing without control




There are some startlingly clever people in business today.


It’s both encouraging and baffling.


Encouraging because, well… we need clever people now more than ever.


Baffling because… what the hell are they all doing?


One would expect the world to be getting incrementally better with the applied momentum of all this focused intelligence.


Then I’m reminded of the Pirelli tyre ad from 25 or so years ago.


Power is nothing without control.


Several hundred horsepower of snarling automotive is useless unless your car can deliver that power onto the road and translate it into forward motion.


This is, literally, where the rubber meets the road.


Example:


I was working some years ago for a Swiss organisation in Spain.


I noticed when I was trawling through old sales documents that there had been a long-protracted negotiation with a particular bank in Gibraltar.


But nothing came of it.


When I asked why, it transpired that neither side could reach an agreement. The difference between the two was a fraction of a %.


Long story short: I arranged to reignite negotiations with the parameters agreed beforehand.


I was assured that both sides wanted the deal. I set the date.


The owner of my company insisted I attend the meeting.


I couldn’t think of anything more tedious, but I went.


20 people around the largest boardroom table I’d ever seen.


For 3 hours.


I drifted into my own head after about 20 minutes.


Eventually - chairs scraped, people stood, hands shook, smiles all round.


Fantastic, deal done, right?


Er, no.


What?!


‘Excuse me’, I said. ‘We all agreed that this was happening. I don’t want to be rude, but this needs to get done. Today.’


Everyone sat down again.


10 minutes later, the deal was done.


On the way out of the building, walking across the car park next to Marina Bay, my boss said:


‘That’s why I wanted you to come’.


All of that collective intelligence could not get the deal over the line.


I had no clue what they were talking about in that meeting, but I didn’t need to.


The tyre has no power. It’s essentially inert.


But it gets the power from the vehicle to the road.


And that is what many businesses fail to do.


Enormous intellectual resources don’t necessarily mean appropriate, focused, meaningful action.


Power is nothing without control.

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