The recent Vodaphone-Mannesmann merger, which created the world's fourth largest business, has been described as formally marking the end of the industrial age and the real beginning of the information age. In the rapidly evolving field of virtual and telecoms technology it is only to be expected that new products, services and even industries appear to evolve in the blink of an eye.
Yet competitive pressures are driving even well-established industries such as oil and pharmaceuticals, with their relatively longer-term business cycles, to cut down lead times and get products to market fast. These operational demands mean the emphasis on the short term is driven even deeper into business psychology.
Senior managers are usually caught between the need to please shareholders, by driving down costs and raising profitability, and the needs of the organisation and its employees. The interests of shareholders usually drive decision-making in the direction of cost-cutting and higher efficiency, although a gloss may be put on messages about the need for change for internal PR purposes.
Good short-term financial results, however, are usually the fruits of earlier decisions and investments. The same is true of the human asset, especially highly employable knowledge workers.
Evidence of short-term tunnel vision can be seen in attitudes such as "We're too busy to train" and recruitment treated as gap-filling. Yes, outputs are important but while business results may look good at the moment, the inputs - such as the morale, motivation and energy required of employees to achieve high performance - may not be sustainable. But has anyone noticed?
A true stakeholder perspective is underpinned by a belief that you get the best out of people by providing them with congenial conditions in which to work, especially the hours they are expected to work. The assumption is that when people feel satisfied as employees they give better performance, including service to customers.
Yet there are growing signs that skilled staff are becoming choosier about who they want to work for. Employers who have put time and effort into making organisational values a reality are becoming the employers of choice.
Such reputations are not won overnight. Building a climate of trust in which staff are willing and able to give of their best takes time - and no time at all to destroy. Bigger commercial win