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September 1999

Managing the Future

Surviving in the 21st Century

Olympics management legend Peter Ueberroth cites competitiveness, integrity and hiring wisdom as qualities successful jewelers will need.

It will take more than good products and a well-established name to thrive in the next century, according to management speaker Peter Ueberroth, the former Olympics chief who now operates a company called Contrarian Corp. He told the opening-day crowd during his keynote speech at the third International Gemological Symposium in San Diego that companies will need to take these steps:

  • Compete, don't just manage. Companies that are merely managed and run according to the status quo will not survive in the ultra-competitive world of tomorrow, said Ueberroth. Owners and managers have to compete intensely, reinventing themselves at every turn to keep from looking just like the guy down the road. It's no longer enough, even for successful companies, to rest on their laurels. There's always a new competitor improving on what you're doing.
  • Keep promises. Consumers and your employees won't put up with promises that aren't delivered. Integrity will be even more important in the next millennium, he said.
  • Put two at the top. Make sure two people run your company. Though your titles may vary, you should both be empowered to make the important decisions. Business is too complicated today for a single person to know it all. Besides, a kite can't fly without a string, he said – partners in a business often have complementary skills.
  • All employees must have a stake in the company. You can't ask members of your team to compete at the highest levels if they're not in the game. If you can't award stock, think of other forms of compensation or perks that keep top-notch employees happy and motivated.
  • Watch for age and education discrimination. Ueberroth said the two most common forms of prejudice in business are against employees over 65 and people with less than college-level educations. He cited several examples of older workers and ones without college educations who became stars when given the chance. He urged jewelers to keep an open mind and see potential in retirees who want to work or mothers returning to the work force with high school diplomas.
  • Demand superior service from consultants. Almost all businesses now use consultants, from traditional legal and accounting help to technology and business information. Don't keep consultants who aren't as committed to your team and goals as you are. Demand excellence from them too.
  • Get involved in your local community and government. Jewelers should encourage good citizenship among employees as a way to achieve success. Learning what new laws and regulations may affect your business and preparing tomorrow's workers and consumers to be effective adults are key to a positive future, he said.

– by Peggy Jo Donahue

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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