June 4, 2011

Can Strong Management Skills Rescue a Venture?

I have thought of the answer to this question many times and every time concluded that the correct answer is a big "No". Many people I have met say and suggest that strong management can achieve anything. I totally disagree with that thought.

For any venture to be successful many ingredients need to come together and create the right mix. So what are the ingredients that are needed to rescue a venture and make it happen successfully? Here is a list of some of the most important ones: 

Clear goal, direction, timeline and approach for the venture

This is critical to start the venture in the right way and then drive it on the right track until it is successfully accomplished. False starts, missteps, two minds, etc. are not good for any venture.

Course correction is of course needed but complete change of direction (especially more than few times) are never good for any venture.

Right number and quality of people

Many people argue that having a team with less than needed staff but all star performers can do the trick. This is not true at all. Right number of people with the right quality is needed for any successful venture.

For people to stay motivated the stretch while working on a venture cannot be extremely high from start till end. Hence it is important to have right number of hands on the venture.

Also, in any venture the various activities which need to be performed are of varying volume, complexity and newness. Hence a mix of average, good and star performers is essential to have a balanced team. Imagine what would be the motivation level of a team which has all star performers and the tasks are all routine and simple.

Adequate software, hardware and other resources

Can a person fly in air like a bird? The answer is no and we know why. Of course if someone can buy an air ticket for this person she can fly in air.

Due to inherent limitations and systemic constraints certain things are just not possible. They can turn into difficult (and hence achievable) with resources becoming available.

Resources of all types - software, hardware and others - are necessary for any venture. Money and budget for a venture is the first step in ensuring resources can be made available.

Positive engagement of relevant stakeholders

This is important since stakeholders play an important role in proving direction and resources to any venture. The sponsor(s), customers(s), reviewer)s, advisor(s) in any venture must however play a positive and constructive role in ensuring the successful completion of a venture.

Loads of luck (especially in respect of external, uncontrollable factors)

Many a times even when everything in a venture looks picture perfect something that happens outside the venture may adversely impact or kill the venture. In the context of business world this might mean a major policy change.

Many of the external factors may be uncontrollable and at times unpredictable. If they manifest then it may spell doom for the venture. That's why it's fine if lady luck does not smile on a venture but it must never frown on it!

Strong management skills

Yes they are also important. You need someone to take the driver's seat in any venture. But as can be seen from the points explained above this is not the sole criterion for a successful venture.

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