A Journey from Aimlessness to Precision

Just like the wheels on a bus, the wheels of businesses constantly move, carrying organizations forward in their quest for success. Reflecting on my own experiences over the past 25 years, I’ve witnessed a remarkable transformation in the way businesses and government institutions function. Today, I’ll take you on a journey through these changes, illustrating how the world of business has evolved from a seemingly aimless Alice in Wonderland to a well-oiled machine.

The 7am Tea-Drinking Rituals: During my tenure in the government over a quarter century ago, we never really thought of ourselves as conducting business. It was a different era, where the focus was more on being present at work rather than achieving specific outcomes. Managers placed a disproportionate emphasis on punctuality, insisting that everyone be at their desks by 7 am. Ironically, once there, many employees would simply enjoy a leisurely morning ritual of sipping tea, reading newspapers, and engaging in casual conversations.

Aiming for Targets: Over the last 15 years, however, the government has significantly improved its target-setting process. It’s hard to imagine the lackadaisical approach that existed during my time there. A culture shift has occurred, with a renewed focus on achieving specific objectives and making a tangible impact.

Alice in Wonderland’s Lesson for Business: The conversation between Alice and the Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” aptly captures the essence of my early days in the government:

Alice: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
The Cheshire Cat: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
Alice: “I don’t much care where.”
The Cheshire Cat: “Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.”

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wondrland

This exchange highlights the importance of having a clear direction and purpose. Without well-defined goals, our actions may lead us in circles, without making any real progress.

My subsequent work in an international oil company presented a stark contrast to my government days. In this highly competitive industry, the company had precise objectives and well-defined targets. Even the slightest deviation from these goals was closely monitored and analyzed. This meticulous approach demonstrated the value of having a clear sense of direction and purpose, allowing the company to navigate the complex world of oil and gas with great success.

The wheels of businesses and organizations have come a long way over the past few decades. From aimless beginnings to the precision of modern industries, the landscape has evolved significantly. As we reflect on this transformation, let us continue to learn from the past, embracing the importance of clear goals and focused strategies in our pursuit of success. After all, it is the wheels that keep the bus moving forward, and it’s our responsibility to ensure they stay on the right track.

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