What breaks the camel’s back almost always is when a dilemma is converted to a problem and ‘solved’. This and the fact that there exists of a myriad of dilemmatic constructs within corporate philosophy and culture in every organization, makes for a disaster waiting to happen.
It happened in Wells Fargo recently. On first pass everything about corporate strategy, values, mission and vision looks fine and in place. Then you get this:
Wells Fargo, will be the poster child of what is actually happening in some shade or form, in almost every tech and banking and sales driven organization today i.e. not everyone in leadership in the organization are aware or adept at recognizing, calling out and managing these dilemmas daily. If you think about that for a second, you’ll know its scary. On the other hand, reading a situation as a dilemma and not a problem – and managing it as such- is the one sure way to get ‘out of the box’ and start thinking.
The purpose of this post is 2 fold.
1. To remind the esteemed users of Linkedin about recognizing dilemmas. (You guys are smart and you can go and do your learning on what a dilemma is. Please don’t guess)
2. Attempt to pinpoint a couple of ‘seat belts’ that were not worn – for whatever emotional reasons or otherwise, that the referenced article alludes to.
Even seasoned CEO’s like John Stumpf could be blind-sided or lead to believe that the tactics are right. The dilemma for Wells Fargo’s CEO would have been:
“How do we expand revenue and profit while adhering to our ethical values”.
Here is the 3-point corporate strategy of Wells Fargo that will help drive business results- The WHAT:
- Deepen relationships and attract new customers
- Seamlessly serve our customers – anywhere, any time
- Consistently earn customer trust through sound risk management
Looks alright. There’s more print in there ofcourse. Things start getting dilemmatic as we go deeper. Here are the 6 points of Priorities:
- Putting customers first: We want to be the first provider our customers think of when they need their next financial product. Warning: Please wear your Seat belt when you drive this. How about if it was re-phrased, “Create the experience for our customers to want us first when they need their financial product”. — This will force the question, ‘How do we do that’ and…that’s where innovative thinking begins.
- Growing revenue: Wells Fargo is a growth company that believes the key to the bottom line is the top line. Thank you. This is basic finance 1 o 1. Warning: Please wear your Seat belt when you drive this.
- Managing expenses: When we find wise ways to reduce our expenses, we free up funds to benefit our customers, invest in the future, and reward our shareholders. It gets interesting with the next: Here was THE seat belt:
- Living our vision and values: Every day when we come to work, we have the opportunity to bring our vision and values to life. ” . . There’s an old saying: Actions speak louder than words. We need to show people what we believe. They need to see our vision and values come alive in everyday actions, not just in posters on the wall. Our customers need to see us doing the right thing and helping them succeed financially. Our team members need to see us respecting, honoring, caring for, and appreciating one another. Our communities need to see us taking part and investing in projects that are important to them. That’s how we truly bring our vision and values to life.” “Our reputation extends from our character, not the other way around. . . . If it’s the right thing to do, it will be good for our reputation”. How true, and….you did..?
- Connecting with communities and stakeholders: “……And our financial performance has been recognized by individual and institutional investors alike, who through their investments have made Wells Fargo one of the most valuable banks in the U.S. and the world”. Here’s a dilemma. Does this sentence belong here?
- Managing risk ;”We understand that to continue our success and meet the heightened expectations of our key stakeholders, we must excel in all types of risk management, including credit, market, liquidity, operational, information security, compliance, model, and reputational risk”. Whose. . . (and perhaps in retrospect should it be called: Managing dilemmas)
Oh! yeah. All this is great. Good to know. And how exactly is this supposed to help when you are loading me with ‘Eight is Great’?.
Here are Wells’ five primary values that are based on their vision which is “We want to satisfy our customers’ financial needs and help them succeed financially.”
- People as a competitive advantage
- Ethics: . . .”We have to earn that trust every day by behaving ethically; rewarding open, honest, two-way communication; and holding ourselves accountable for the decisions we make and the actions we take”.
- What’s right for customers ( Eight is Great. “The analytics called these out. For over 2 million unauthorized customers” they might say. There’s more in the referenced article. Our interest is in the learnings)
- Diversity and inclusion and,
So what’s the remedy:
- Can we achieve this
- Can I and every employee, list our company’s values by heart
- Do I and every employee understand how these values help or hinder each one of us to achieve this.
- If there are values that are likely to hinder us, “How many of my company’s values will I need to break to achieve this”.
- If your mind starts throwing out ideas of the values that you see yourself needing to break, Don’t balk, call it out! Call for a brainstorming session immediately! and make it happen. More the values that are likely to be compromised the more the significance of your brainstorming results are likely to be — in protecting you, and the company.
If your mind starts throwing out ideas of the values that you see yourself needing to break, Don’t balk, call it out! Call for a brainstorming session immediately! and make it happen. More the values that are likely to be compromised the more the significance of your brainstorming results are likely to be — in protecting you, and the company.
- The pressure to perform from CEO downwards is immense.
- Getting financial results at any cost is an insidious risk.
- Even tho companies have well-written vision, values, priorities and strategy, its not worth the paper its written on unless it is learned and practised.
- There will always be dilemmas between improving financial performance and adhering to values. See these as great opportunities for innovative thinking!
Doing the above would cost you a fraction of : what is costs to open 2 million unauthorized accounts, fire 5,300 low level employees and pay $185 million in fees along with loss of trust with the public and shareholders.
If this made sense to you, reach out to someone you trust to vet your corporate culture implementation.
Gurunath Hari is the author of Amazon International Best seller “The 6 Dimensions, Overcome Presenteeism: Excel in work and Life”. He has over 25 years of corporate experience, including leadership and management roles. His working life started at the end of the pre-computer era and continues to the present ‘everything-mobile’ era.
The kindle and hardcopy version of 6 Dimensions book is available at Amazon.