Management Articles


Even When It Ain't Broke You Have to Fix It!

By: Thomas W. McKee

Thomas W. McKee is president of Advantage Point Systems, Inc., a staff development and change management firm. Thomas is an author, motivational speaker, trainer and leader. He has spoken to over 1/2 million people and taught the Advantage Point System method of change management to over 100,000 managers in companies like Hewlett Packard, Ernst and Young, Procter and Gamble, the California Department of General Services, and the IRS. ; For information about the Advantage Point System of managing change see

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In 1982, Peters and Waterman published their best seller In Search of Excellence. They examined forty-three companies, each of which had met an exacting set of financial standards for each of the previous twenty years. These companies were winners. Yet within seven years after the book's publication, only fourteen of those companies still met the standards of excellence, and some were in real trouble. The lesson is not that Peters and Waterman were wrong; it is that past success is no guarantee of future success.

Several of those companies were victims of their success, unable to change once-winning strategies that no longer fit their environment. Yes, sometimes, even when it ain't broke, you have to fix it.

How do you do this kind of fixing without being paranoid? How do you forecast change? How do you get ready for the 21st century?

Leadership is the ability to meet the needs of the hour. Winston Churchill is often considered one of the world's great leaders; however, a careful examination of his life reveals that Churchill was only prime minister of England for a few years. He met the needs of England during the crucial years of World War II. But the needs of the hour changed, and he was deeply hurt after the war when he was passed over for new leadership. Sustaining leadership is more than the ability to meet the needs of the hour. It is the ability to manage change.

One way to forecast change is to embrace learning and reflection. How much time do you give each week to reading? How much time do you give each week to reflection? How much time do you give to observing trends? How much time do you give to think tanks? Effective leaders must take the time to read, reflect and discuss with other leaders. Many are involved in study groups and think tanks to evaluate and forecast.

This information often enables leaders to see trends and project future needs. Leaders must be able to see the future needs, and know how to mobilize people to meet those needs. Those who learn that skill can be successful leaders. Those who cannot, will pass off the scene.

© 1998 Advantage Point Systems Inc.

Other Articles by Thomas W. McKee

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. ManagerWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. ManagerWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.


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