Management Advice For Perpetual Success

During the past two months, I attended the IRI Summit, the National Restaurant Association Show and the National Confectioners Association Sweets & Snacks Expo. The common theme among my conversations with many industry executives was the difficulty in short-term planning, and managing the challenges and opportunities confronting them.

As we know from our everyday existence, managing our companies in today's environment is a handful. And we're fortunate to be in a business where we know products will be consumed in increasing numbers every year.

So I took notes and decided to address the most important management topics that were on these execs' minds.

To help me with this process, I decided to use some of Peter Drucker's best known management principles to summarize several points. Here they are in no particular order:

"Whenever you see a successful business, someone made a courageous decision."

This fact always has separated the successful from the average. It's incontrovertible for small and big companies, in all areas of retail format.

"People in any organization are always attached to the obsolete–the things that should have worked but did not, the things that once were productive and no longer are."

This is the best test case for encouraging new ideas and input from all sources. Our industry is blessed with smart, creative professionals who are constantly inventing and reinventing the marketplace. The "old" way of doing things is a drag on any organization that allows it. With change occurring at light speed, not only is it difficult to keep up, but it also will be injurious for those companies that don't proceed at unprecedented speed.

"Business has only two functions–marketing and innovation."

All business has operated on the basis that nothing happens until something is sold. More now than ever, it's critical that owners, investors and operators recognize that revenue is king, not cost containment, to achieve desired profitability.

"Knowledge has to be improved, challenged and increased constantly, or it vanishes."

The increase in the amount of available information and data is beyond comprehensible. Research shows that the majority of executives catch up with important information online in the evenings. Conferences or strategy sessions aren't enough.

"Leadership is not magnetic personality, that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not 'making friends and influencing people,' that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person's vision to higher sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations."

In a people-driven profession, the single most important accomplishment managers can achieve is to continually take their reports to higher levels, both personally and professionally. The result will be perpetual success.

Finally, here's a quote I often refer to in a quandary: "The complexity you wish to unravel exists to a greater degree in your own mind than in the problem itself."

This quote, from an unknown source, forces me to step back and see things more clearly. I hope they do the same for you.

Our industry is blessed with smart, creative professionals who are constantly inventing and reinventing the marketplace.

– Harry Stagnito,

President and CEO, Stagnito Media