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:
- Always have too few people. Always.
- Judge people carefully; if you choose well, everything becomes easier.
- Seek changes in business; don’t just accept change.
- Make sure decision making is centered where the action is.
- Remember that organization follows ability, not the other way around.
- Fit your organization to people, not people to the organization.
- Learn from the past, but invest in the future.
- Don’t just accept responsibility — usurp it.
- Don’t hope for excellence — demand it, of yourself and others.
- 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.