Tuesday, 9 August 2016


Barack Obama | Famous Face
Foreign policy and management may look poles apart. Not always. managers and industry may or may not subscribe to Obama's policy formulations. Even foreign policy experts have their quarrels about his foreign policy. Yet, a new book on Obama's foreign policy strategy has a lot for managers looking for new ideas on business strategy and decision making. An unusually long titled new book by Derek Chollet, The Long Game: How Obama Defied Washington and Redefined America's Role in the World, throws light on how Obama formulated sustainable strategy by articulating a number of principles which should be applied while making strategic choices and managing US foreign policy.How effective these principles have been in managing US foreign policy is a matter of debate for foreign policy experts. But, there is no doubt that a look at these principles will convince any manager how useful they are in business strategy and decision making.
Chollet enumerates these principles and explains them in terms of foreign policy. While discussing and relating them to business, we take the liberty of explaining them in the context of business as against foreign policy. Obama's focus was long term; hence the title of the book, Long Game. The urge to leave a legacy beyond one's term is natural for any president of the most powerful nation. What makes Obama's principles unique is that in spite of the temptation to leave a legacy, he is able to look beyond his presidential term, into the long term interests of the country. The obvious question is: will it be difficult for our business managers to look beyond the quarterly results and immediate benefits? Are business managers prepared to overlook demands for immediate grand results, which may have little chance of being sustained in the long term?
According to Chollet, the following principles guided Obama's decision making, keeping the long term sustainability of the outcome:
1. Balance: Long term policy needs to ensure balance between interests and values of the organization, and between the conflicting stake-holder interests. Managers also have to look at balance between the sustainability of the policies in the long term and the need to ensure healthy financial results in the short and medium term.
2.Sustainability: Managers need to ask the question: Can the commitments I am making now be sustained by the organization in the long term. Managers need to note that commitments which will cost heavily are, indeed, difficult to sustain. How do  we make the commitment which will not impose unbearable cost, yet will yield the desired long term outcome?   
3. Restraint: Too often managers are tempted by capabilities and possibilities. This leads them to ask the question: What can I do now? What can be done, of course, is less important than what needs to be done. Therefore, the more important question managers need to ask is: What should I do now? 
4. Precision: Power tempts one to wield the heaviest weapon, no matter what the situation demands. Often that results in not only wasting valuable resources but also creating more unmanageable collaterals. That means: Wield a scalpel if you can avoid wielding a hammer. Act with minimum pressure and noise, but with intense focus.  
Pics Photos - Barack Obama S Foreign Policy Advisors Are More Likely ...
5. Patience: Policies need time to yield result. They follow the law of the farm: what you sow takes time to yield. Allow your action the time for fructifying.  

6. Fallibility: You are not God. Managers are as prone to fallibility as politicians, doctors, economists etc. Therefore, realism and readiness to face the eventuality of failure of policy and appreciation of the limitations of achieving the outcome are hallmarks of long-term success.
7. Skepticism: Discount those peddling easy solutions and allow the floor to the devil's advocates who may pose difficult and inconvenient questions. Skepticism provides multiple perspectives.
8. Exceptionalism: Beware that as a leader on whom the organization's future depends, you carry unique responsibilities. As one who is invested with the authority to show direction to the organization, you cannot shirk your responsibility..
No doubt, these principles can become tools for procrastination and dithering in the hands of doubting Toms. On the other hand it can become the framework for realistic decision making and prudent action in the hands of thoughtful managers. Like all tools, these principles by themselves cannot yield results; in the end it is the one who wields the tools who gets the outcomes.
By V.K.Talithaya
On 8/09/2016


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