"Deploying Countervailing Forces"

Countervailing forces create tension, which in turn, establishes the dynamics of change, for better or for worse.


In business the two dominant forces are corporate culture and marketplace demands. Both need to be recognised, respected and managed, if a leader is to achieve and enjoy optimal performance.




Established, conservative entities often have prevailing cultures that demand and expect compliance and conformity. These often serve a self-interest to maintain the status quo.


Many trade and professional associations underperform because of a dominant presence on boards of executives from large, major and established member entities, whose self-interest is served by retention of the prevailing standings. Sadly, that can and often does lead to inertia. The question arises, “whose interests do we in business seek to serve?” Beware vested interests!


Little wonder that many companies, products and services have lost touch with market-force demands, expectations, needs and wants.


At all times and with each corporate culture an external focus is imperative. Such orientation will ensure relevance, currency, competitive advantage, benefits and above all, persistence.



Conversely, co-operatives, buying groups and marketing networks suffer strategically and tactically because too many of those in their respective supply chains have little regard, respect for or appreciation of the innate value of a good brand. In such instances, the key issues are a lack of discipline, structure and endorsement of standards. Independence is a virtue for one, but not for an intended integrated collection.


In many instances, a prime casual factor for a lack of the essential characteristics of adherence and discipline are poor or an absence of appropriately applied recruitment and induction procedures. Managing expectations should be applied to those within the network, as well as among customers and clients.


Ownership and membership involve rights and obligations. Single-dimension rewards such as lower bulk-buying purchase prices are typically short-term, can be and are readily countered by competitors and are counterproductive in the pursuit of cohesion, integration and tolerance.


A state of corporate entropy soon follows. That is, - inevitable and steady deterioration: all things go to a state of disorder, in a word, disintegration. Look around, evidence of such abounds. Companies are folding, brands are disappearing and associations are merging.




The market appeal of change, and innovation demands that businesses and associations invoke, promote, celebrate and reward a spirit centred on dynamic adherence to polices and discipline.


That involves risk, a tolerance for failure and the need for resilience to adapt, adopt and to enhance as an integrated, cohesive force.


Marketers applaud this approach, espousing the belief that consumer and client dictates determine the appropriate, and often changing set of rules and success-rate determinants. Their convictions are founded on the contention that “those who write the rules, determine the appropriateness and relevance, and are rewarded accordingly.” Consumers and clients accord such rewards in the form of increased revenue.




True leadership is not a simple art. It involves compromise, often sub-optimal choices (typically in the short-term), the acceptance and tolerance of risk, failure and the ongoing need for change, innovation and creativity.


Time, money, resources and effort are needed to be invested to educate, inform, enthuse and ensure adherence to policies and philosophies by those within the supply chain and to foster appreciation by those whose needs and wants are intended to be fulfilled and satisfied.


All business environments exist in a field-force of countervailing forces. Care must be taken to review, analyse and, if necessary, refine the following elements:


•  Corporate Culture
•  Corporate Driving Force
•  Marketplace demands and expectations


Achieving a balance between those forces is the mark of a good leader.




The principle and practices of the “Six Sigma” concept seek to eliminate variation, errors and waste in production processes. Costs are minimised; efficiency and productivity, within a set framework and template, are achieved, optimised and maintained.


Efficiency is a cornerstone respected by seemingly all adherents and advocates of Six Sigma.


Effectiveness is quite another dimension, because change and dynamism are not necessarily totally compatible concepts to that with Six Sigma.


Therefore, the countervailing forces of the production, auditing, cost control, marketing, merchandising, advertising and promotional need to be managed and, to the extent possible, balanced.




The initial phases for a company, product or service to reassert itself in the marketplace often is founded on a review, refinement and enhancement of corporate cultures, company driving forces and the ability to identify, analyse, service, fulfil and satisfy the ever-changing needs of consumers, all within the parameters of a disciplined, integrated and cohesive network and supply chain.