Winners take ownership of problems, even when they are not their own

Summary : No one ever fixed a problem that wasn’t theirs. Problems are opportunities, so blaming others leaves the opportunities for others.

No one ever fixed a problem that wasn’t theirs.  Problems are opportunities, so blaming others leaves the opportunities for others.  If you study the anatomy of a loser, they are always blaming somebody else for their problems.  They systematically let opportunity fly by them.  This sounds easy, but many times winners turn into losers when they become depressed and unwilling to see how their own actions got them there.  It can drag down entire companies.  I was dumbfounded when a board member of NEC gave a talk asking, “Why did Japan lose?  Why did NEC drop from being the largest semiconductor company in the world?”  His answer: Intel was the source of their problems.  They had sued NEC over their microcode and they also tricked NEC by abandoning memories and moving to microprocessors.  Intel also sued AMD and they continue to thrive.  It was NEC’s decision to drop out of the x86 market when the lawsuit hit.  AMD did not and continued to fight.  He forgot to mention Japan’s TRON project, which fielded its own microprocessor, operating system, etc., and was supposed to blow the United States out of the PC business.  As for memories, what about Samsung?  They were successful despite Intel’s moves.  Here the finger was almost pointed at them with the comment that they could not keep pace with Korea’s flexible decision- making in capex.  Why didn’t they change?  NEC knew 200mm was coming and they chose to stick conservatively with 6 inch wafers, knowing full well that cost inefficiency would tie them down right in front of an oncoming train.  Back in the day, many Japanese executives were underestimating Korea’s (and Taiwan’s) ability, believing Japan was innately superior.  Many had a misguided belief in the so called ‘global wave of prosperity’ that went from east to west and was leaving America to wind up in Japan for the next hundred years.  This let them off the hook for examining their decisions closely.  If you study the successful Japanese companies of the nineties – like Advantest, TEL, and even Toyota – you will see they never fall prey to this thinking.

Systematically bad decision making that relies on old concepts, bad concepts, or what’s politically right will always bring an organization down.  There are no entitlements in business.  Waves can just as easily drown you as they can carry you along.  It is the job of a leader to chart the correct course into the future.  They must see clearly, throw out all ballast, and be willing to adapt quickly as conditions change and dictate new approaches.  This starts with recognizing the problems and then taking responsibility for them.  This is why the American President, Harry S. Truman, had the plaque on his desk stating “The Buck Stops Here”  True leaders know that their job is to take the blame for problems because that is the second step in solving them.

By G Dan Hutcheson

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Annexure :

If you study the anatomy of a loser, they are always blaming somebody else for their problems.  They systematically let opportunity fly by them.  This sounds easy, but many times winners turn into losers when they become depressed and unwilling to see how their own actions got them there.  It can drag down entire companies.  I was dumbfounded when a board member of NEC gave a talk asking, “Why did Japan lose?  Why did NEC drop from being the largest semiconductor company in the world?”

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