Friday, 31 August 2012

Book Review: You can't order change: Lessons from Jim McNerney's Turnaround at Boeing - Peter Cohan

I was attracted to this book because the title said what I have always thought yet doesn't seem to be what I get involved with doing! I spend a lot of time on Boeings so I felt I had an interest in knowing what they doing and how they are doing it.

A while back Boeing was in a mess - stockprice was down, staff were complaining, revenue was not as anticipated, key people were leaving, lawsuits abounded and generally everything was on a downward trend.  Enter CEO Jim McNerney who gained a reputation of requiring results to speak for themselves rather than putting himself on a pedestal.

This book takes you through the CEO perspective and actions in turning around a self-destructing monolith. The view I got form the book was the importance of people stuff, relationships and leadership in times of trouble. Sounds obvious but in my experience I see organisations go down the route of more rules, process redesign and the like when the crunch hits.

Cohan interprets McNerney's approach as expressing what is required from leaders in the organisation, working with people so they jointly own these leadership attributes and encouraging communication at all levels. He also got rid of the people who didn't make the grade while investing in those who were growing into leadership roles with the right skills and capabilities. After people, the big message is the importance of the person who manages the finances. Then there is also the piece about customer involvement.

Written in summary here all this looks like the standard stuff of management and leadership texts. However, Cohan does explain all these actions in the context of Boeing. Still - to me, much of the diagnosis ended up a bit samey. Maybe that is more a reflection of my expectations - was I looking for something unique? Maybe the answer to large scale change in large organisations really is simple - the difficulty is in applying the tactics.

Overall - nothing new in here and maybe that is what is new.

No comments: