Fundamental as anything

When business schools don’t bother with what I consider the essence of business you have to wonder.

A recent experience disturbed me. A month or so ago I was lecturing a group of Australian executives at Case Western University in Cleveland, Ohio.


One guy, from a provincial city, told me they were setting up a business school in his home town and that I owed it to the community to share whatever knowledge and expertise I had with students, and that I ought to offer my services to the new school.


So after lengthy reflection I decided to offer my services to the academic in charge of the program. Now forgive me for blowing my own trumpet, but it is necessary to complete the story. I have a degree from a major Australian university and qualifications in different aspects of management from four leading American universities including Stanford and Columbia.

I have turned around some businesses in my time and have helped a few emerge from financial distress to grow into very valuable entities. The tool for change has always been (and I believe forever will be) “organisational effectiveness”.


The extent to which a business is sustainably successful and continues to grow is determined by its organisational effectiveness. If you don’t have the right people in the right place at the right time working in harmony with one another and aligned with the objectives of the business, then success is going to be less than optimal. Organisational effectiveness is fundamental to strategy, marketing, growth and financial success.


So, getting back to the story, I had a call from the academic who was in charge of appointments and he asked me to describe my area of expertise. So, I told him that I wasn’t sure how much expertise I had but I turned businesses around and helped them grow and central to what I did was “organisational effectiveness”.

I told him my experience was that there were many small businesses and quite a few large ones that weren’t as successful on a sustainable basis as they could be because they had not optimised their organisational potential. Some were organisationally dysfunctional.


The academic replied that they weren’t going to teach that subject and so I would be inappropriate for the school. I then did some research and found that the closest subject to organisational effectiveness was “organisational behaviour” and this was not taught in many MBA courses.


This made me wonder what on earth they are teaching in business schools. You might turn out a genius in marketing but if the ideas are not supported by an effective organisation, then the benefit of their contribution will be less than optimal.


Not only that, if you have an effective organisation, you will constantly be in touch with the value chain so that you can respond to changes in supplier developments and customer expectations.

An effective organisation is one that is perfectly aligned with the variety of interests that impact on shareholder value and includes an harmonious and ongoing relationship with suppliers; high degree of staff satisfaction (which is a product of the ability of the staff to bring their individuality to the process) so that you can anticipate customer needs and exceed customer expectation. These characteristics define the outstanding organisation.


The fact that they don’t teach it at universities and don’t require practitioners to have an input to the students ought not deter those who want to grow their business from constantly working on the organisational effectiveness in their organisations.



To read more Louis Coutts blogs, click here.




Brian Hassett writes: It is quite pathetic. I thought that the better business and management schools would appreciate the importance of oganisational effectiveness. Keep trying to get the message across.



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