“Protect People From Too Much Organization”

The yellowing, decades-old piece of paper I found in my files featured this striking advice from Zoltan Merszei, former executive at Occidental Petroleum Corporation and Dow Chemical Company. Merszei wrote it “as a reminder that we need to protect people from too much organization, while never destroying the organization itself.” His message is still relevant:

  1. Always have too few people. Always.
  2. Judge people carefully; if you choose well, everything becomes easier.
  3. Seek changes in business; don’t just accept change.
  4. Make sure decision making is centered where the action is.
  5. Remember that organization follows ability, not the other way around.
  6. Fit your organization to people, not people to the organization.
  7. Learn from the past, but invest in the future.
  8. Don’t just accept responsibility — usurp it.
  9. Don’t hope for excellence — demand it, of yourself and others.
  10. Develop a vision of what’s to come in this world. That’s your ultimate insurance of success.
    — reprinted from the March-April 1980 newsletter, “Oxy: The Occidental Report.”

So much has changed in business since it was written, and yet so much hasn’t. Effectively managing people and the organization they support continues to be a challenge.


Leave a Reply