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Strategic Financial Decisions – The Makers & the Breakers

Taking the Shylock route today’s organizations embark on a journey that can directly drag the organization to perilous and disastrous route into a future that offsets the goals and the mission of the Board. The financial charter by process design, rests with the decision of a very few; these few sometimes do not get the pulse of the organization; they constantly vibrate at a frequency that is completely off course the Board and the Business. With the changing trends in the corporate leadership and their approach to profitability, the only line items these leaders  see are bottom line cost reductions, spree of acquisitions & improper integrations, investing into sales & marketing efforts of decade old services, misplaced S&M focus over geographies and services. They are not to be blamed, without any depth in the service LOB of the organization and the technology vertical comprehension skills these decision and their makers drag the organization down and ensure it sputters to an halt like an old blocked rusted carburetor engine.

I want to discuss a few key examples of such perilous decisions and the decision makers that have devastated tall standing organizations. These decisions and the decision makers have collapsed structures and impeded progress in the name of growth and profitability; bringing to the fore their cleaving to traditional business structures and not adopt to the dynamic business environments governing the markets today.

Nortel Networks: Nortel struggled with a string of weak leadership team who huffed and puffed their way through mistake after mistake until Nortel eventually collapsed. They were burdened with billions of dollars in debt after missing out to raise equity and till they became a penny stock. Poor management and governance saw class-action lawsuits that cost it billions of dollars. Nortel made a series of multi-billion dollar acquisitions that were spectacular failures. Causes: Incorrect and out-of-line Financial Decisions by the handful of leaders that devastated the growth Nortel had achieved over the decades.

Air India: Foremost the Public holding of a Commercial enterprise does never survive, except for entities like ISRO where scientists and industry experts rule the roost. As for Air India and Indian Airlines the decision on not to privatize proves costly. The Indian state with its plural and coalition driven political schema cannot in anyway manage to be commercial in the wake of massive industry competition. The rising debts over fuel, airport parking, salaries, maintenance, one does wonder the future course of the organization. Wages account for just 16% of total costs, so the scope for reducing losses through wage or employee reductions is quite small. Blunders aplenty thanks to the Union ministry like the; Air India – Indian merger, Not outsourcing of fringe and support work, severe misuse of perks, corruption driven losses from high places, No industry expert to run the show as bureaucrats and politicians CANNOT run an airline. The purchase of Boeing 777 and 787 Dream-liners far beyond the airlines need is another major factor in this. Recently reports indicate corruption in the sale of assets of the Organization. Causes: Well.. its political state leadership. What more can anyone expect?

The above listed instances clearly highlight the need to have a strategic leadership team that drives business performance and posses great acumen and wisdom. Having taken financial decisions based on traditional and primitive approaches do not help growth in organizations that operate in dynamic business environments, the need of the hour is to have a sane leadership that can rise up and adopt to the changes. In the name of Optimization – Penny Wise Pound Foolish. Whenever the corporate house starts building hurdles for business growth in any form with red tapes lined with laces preaching of optimization; its high time the second level leadership and mid management foresee the conclusion. In the above examples we see that in the dynamic business environments the decisions becoming debacles.

Jesu Valiant – 2011

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