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Guerrilla Management And The New Business Ethics
By Orvel Ray Wilson   Printer Friendly Version

The owner of a major league ball club is suspended for off-hand racist remarks. A candidate for Attorney General has her career cut short by an obsolete tax law. GM is fined one hundred five million dollars for a faulty design, then sues NBC for staging a fire for a news story. The new liberal administration is clearly turning toward conservative values of home, hearth and family, calling for mandatory registration of lobbyists and major campaign finance reform. A new energy tax will help reduce the federal deficit while cutting CO2 emissions.

No more "business as usual." Managers in both the public and private sectors are struggling to define new boundaries of what's right and correct, fighting to curb waste, fraud, and inefficiency. A credit repair agency in Denver was recently indicted for advertising more than it could deliver, and the message is clear: to function in the hypersensitive business climate of the 90's, professionals in all fields must conduct their affairs under a new, more stringent set of moral, ethical, and social standards.

To insure that decisions and dealings will stand the test of time, guerrilla managers apply the litmus test of fair-care-share. Is it fair to all concerned? Do I really care about these people, and have I demonstrated my caring? Have I done my share, and a little bit more? Like the camper's motto, do you leave the site cleaner than you found it, and always leave some wood? Follow these principles consistently and you can't go wrong.

These new boundaries are nothing new to the guerrilla. They have always known that the truth is one of the most powerful weapons in their arsenal. They consistently under promise and over deliver. They know that while the customer may not always be right, they are always the customer. If someone is dissatisfied, they ferret out the cause and correct it. They guarantee everything unconditionally. They recognize the fiduciary obligations they have to their employer and their community as well, and conduct all of their affairs in ways that are socially, economically and environmentally responsible. This sense of responsibility, that we're all in this together, gives them the advantage of credibility in their relationships with vendors and customers. Instead of selling "what's in it for me" they sell "what's in it for us." By stressing mutual benefit, guerrillas create a strong human bond that transcends simple commercial interests.

These new standards will change our definitions of quality and service as well. In a Japanese factory, if someone spills coffee on the floor, it's counted as a quality fault. If someone is late for a meeting, it's a quality fault. Doing a good job is elevated to an ethical standard; a matter of honor. This "count everything" approach to total quality management is and important reason why Japanese companies have been able to out-gun American manufacturers.

The same principle applied to service means than no one should be left on hold for more than a few seconds, all orders should be filled the same day, and vendors get paid immediately. Guerrillas reward every customer by giving them more than they expect, more than they paid for, and thereby build a constituency of satisfied repeat customers.

Guerrilla managers also lavishly reward their stars. They set high standards and goals, and are constantly on the lookout, trying to catch someone doing something right. They encourage independent thinking and innovation, and they never argue with results. They are ruthless enforcers of the new ethical paradigm, highly intolerant of non-performers who would bring down the curve. They do not abide racist or sexist language in the office, on the shop floor, or even on the docks. If you have more than 15 people working for you right now, fire one of them. That's right. Fire them. There's someone in your operation right now who is unhappy with their job, and you're unhappy with the job they're doing, and you already know who they are. Do them a favor by giving them a new opportunity, somewhere else. Chances are they won't be missed, and the rest of your organization will breathe a sigh of relief at their exit.

The competition can't out-spend you on things that don't cost money, and this new ethical high ground can give your organization the competitive edge you need to succeed, and it costs you nothing! Fail to elevate your standards, and the competition will eat you alive.


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