My third insight is that we should try to design several different tasks to make them one.
When I was young I had the ability to memorize up to a hundred different numbers.
People thought I had a great memory but what I did was merely memorize several key numbers, figure out their relationship, and then calculate the rest of the numbers in my mind.
I have used this ability to figure out the relationship between different tasks in my business.
No matter how hard you focus your efforts there are always too many tasks, requiring more resources than any organization can commit to, and requiring more time than an individual has available.
These tasks are always essential and you cannot simply pick one and abandon the others.
Rather, you should think what the objectives of each task are, think of all these targeted achievements as a whole, and see if you can redesign one of the tasks so that in achieving it, you also achieve the objectives of other tasks at the same time.
For example, in the Bright China Group, the management committee meets once every six months for two days.
In the past, we have had to make a lot of specific decisions in these meetings.
As the chairperson I have to spend a considerable amount of time in order to understand these matters and their background and to prepare an agenda that covers all the businesses.
On the other hand, between meetings members of the management committee have to maintain close communications with one another to update their strategic thinking, report on the current situation in their area of responsibility, and share their insights and what they have learned.
This exchange of information requires time from each member, but since they are all very busy this important communication function is often neglected.
When we reconsidered the function of these meetings and the objective of these communications, as well as the relationship between the meetings and communications, we decided to change the way these meetings were conducted.
We stopped using meeting time to make specific decisions but rather used it to fully communicate between members, focusing on strategic development and related matters.
With improved communications, each specific decision is now made by the executive who is responsible for that area of business.
This allows us to strengthen the function of our meeting, which is to clarify our strategic direction and enable the decision for each specific matter to be more consistent with the overall strategic direction.
Moreover, it also reduces the time required to prepare for the meeting and its agenda.
All I have to do is to organize my notes on strategic thinking, which I jot down from time to time.
With that, I already have a good outline to guide the discussions at meetings.
Here is another example of taking different tasks and making them one.
For a long time within the Bright China Group our investment business seemed to be mostly unrelated to the Peter F. Drucker Academy.
In our investment business, we have faith in Warren Buffett’s principles, and have used his evaluation standards and procedures to choose our investment targets.
As we have gradually deepened our understanding of Drucker’s management principles and of Buffett’s investment principles we found that they have much in common.
A good enterprise’s strength is rooted in its management.
Its long-term economic characteristics, superior financial performance, and secure debt structure are all the results of good management.
Management’s integrity and rationality are characteristics that both Drucker and Buffett have emphasized.
With that in mind, we have consciously applied PFDA’s competence in our investment business, and at the same time used the relationships from our investment business to develop the PFDA.
As an example, we once wanted to increase our equity holding in a high-quality enterprise that we had invested in.
Before doing so, Bright China’s investment people visited it and found that its senior management were indecisive and troubled by their need to diversify.
As an external investor, we reviewed their entire business from the basics and came up with our recommendations on their strategic positioning.
They found our input extremely valuable, and they further agreed to reference the contents of Drucker’s “Business X-ray” when they receive a copy of Drucker’s book “Managing for Results” from us.
They will start by looking at their existing categories of products and proceed to systematic strategic thinking.
Further, they have agreed to become one of the first corporate participants in PFDA’s latest innovative experiment—to build a lifelong learning system in their enterprise and pay for PFDA’s services.
Thus our investment team has not only completed their own work, but they have also helped PFDA’s marketing and sales promotion.
There are in fact many opportunities to redesign different tasks and make them function as one.
They should also be extended to combine the fulfillment of one’s responsibilities with one’s personal development.
As Drucker pointed out, Descartes’ modernism—an approach to thinking that has dominated Western thought for more than 300 years and that views the whole as the “sum of its parts”—is already invalid in explaining today’s reality.
In its place is what Drucker called the post-modern paradigm and worldview, which advocates holism—it is only by understanding the entirety that we can understand the individual parts. See “Analysis to Perception, the New World View” in The New Realities
In other words, it emphasizes attention to the inherent relationship between different parts of the whole.
Only through this understanding can we make our complicated and difficult work more vivid and interesting, meaningful and not monotonous.
In doing so, our workload will lighten, our performance will be enhanced, and our personal development will be accelerated.