From an interview with Robert Galvin on June 19, 1992, in Chicago, Illinois. Bob Galvin was CEO for Motorola for 29 years, then Chairman of the Board for four more. In 1988 Motorola received the first Malcolm Baldrige Award, the national award for quality.
Here Galvin answers a question about the effort needed at Motorola to stop doing "business as usual," to be able to make change happen.
QUESTION: It had to be brave of you and others to say: we will stop doing business as usual, we will take people off assembly lines, we will teach people how to do things differently, we will allow people to recognize that perhaps they weren't working optimally before. How big an acknowledgment was that to make, and how difficult?
BOB GALVIN: Well, I don't know how hard it is for some other corporate bodies to make those kinds of changes. That wasn't so hard here. We had another influence, and that was the influence of my father. And my father was one who was very willing to admit a mistake. And never liked people who were numb, who stayed with things that were wrong. And so we've been guided by the essential principle of renewal. . . . There are always individuals in an institution who may have more difficulty than others, but that's the range of human nature and our various qualities.
1. Organizations vary widely in their readiness and capability to change. An organization may need to change but not have a culture that can sustain it or the leaders to make it happen. John Kotter has emphasized the need to start change by creating a sense of urgency. If you do not see the sky falling, you are not going to run. In other organizations, they may have the capability and leadership but lack the awareness of how essential change might be to future survival. The environment changes, the business model becomes obsolete. Many owners of CD stores failed to see the movement to downloading music and got left behind. Be aware of changes in your environment. Stay ever vigilant. And grow your talent for a flexible future.
2. Admit mistakes and move on. The bigger the mistake, the more important to correct and set right. Failure to do so waste time, money, energy. A culture of honesty rewards those who make corrections. Real leaders admit and correct their errors.