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Corporate Superman


The Blue Caped CEO

The time is now. The need for rapid response has never been so great. That will be true tomorrow too - but more so. In fact, faced with warp speed change, what seems required is not just quick response, but some kind of preternatural agility.

But change comes slow and hard for people, people being people. And change comes slow and hard for companies too, large or small.

Though the urgent need for change is writ screaming large upon each wall [TOM - "is writ screaming large upon each wall" should be reworked ] written large upon each and every corporate heart, corporate change is no easier now than before - people being people, CEOs being people too.

For companies are people, or at least have personhood with all the complexity, ambiguity, history and inertia that that implies. While it is difficult and hard, sometimes impossible, for individuals to change, companies are not so stuck. They can change far quicker, far easier - if they know how.

There is a process to do it.

It is a process that all great leaders have always known. Call it corporate renewal, or call it preemptive turnaround. It is really deeper than words. Any managing officer can use it. Charisma is not required.

The senior managers, who are blamed for all, do not have to be fired to cause that change; though that sometimes works. Neither do they have to transform themselves to dictator or that urgent caricature of demon [Superman is the good guy - demon sounds like a bad guy] leader : the Blue Caped CEO.

How can this be done by mortal men or mortal women in human firms whose corporate arteries have hardened just a bit and whose business joints are stiff ? ["arteries" Phrase should be reworked or removed] stiffening?

  There is great hope: the interlocking of personality traits is far looser in companies than in people. Memory, too, is shorter which is not always a negative

There are just three concepts to remember and they are simple:

  1. An organization is a living entity.
  2. The company has a soul.
  3. The soul resides in the relationships between the senior managers, expressed through the management teams.

It all comes down to changing these relationships. When they are changed, the soul is changed. When the soul is changed, the company is changed. When the company is changed, its performance is changed and the behavior of its people changes.

Under the right circumstances, it is very easy to change relationships . There are just five steps to take and they require little time from a manager's day.

  1. Call the management team together, those who are, or ought to be, the soul of the company, and create a safe place for that soul to hear and be heard.
  2. Cause the managers to identify, as a group (the soul) and individually, the real issues, the drivers and motivators of the organization, particularly the GUT issues that drain the life energies from within.
  3. Create a catharsis on each issue. Have them feel and express, both as a team and individually, revulsion at each issue.
  4. Immediately on the moment of catharsis, cause the energies to be transferred to, and invested in, their vision of the future - cathexis.
  5. In this discontinuity of catharsis/cathexis, relationships change for the better. It happens quite naturally in the transfer of energy. No special skill is needed.
  6. Take action immediately. Action is the affirmation and cement of new relationships.

In many ways these six steps are the essence of management that should be done and must be done in any case. It is only the spirit in which they are taken, and the intent with which they're done, that makes the difference.

This process works. It has always worked. Just use it once, for a one-time change; or use it every week or every month for constant adaptation.

All that is needed for it to work, is a CEO who sees his company as a living, breathing entity and who wants it to adapt. A CEO who has the will to make his managers look deep into its soul and their hearts and not flinch away.