Steven's Blog

Conversation with BMW Japan CEO

On September 22nd, I conducted an on-stage conversation with BMW Group Japan CEO Peter Kronschnabl. This event, co-hosted by the American and German Chambers of Commerce, was attended by over one-hundred people on the fifty-first floor of Tokyo’s posh Roppongi Hills Club.

While this event was off-the-record, I enumerate nine of my personal takeaways below from the conversation with the insightful, innovative and consummate international business leader, Peter Kronschnabl.

1. Transparency sparks ambition.  Transparency across divisions and departments, as opposed to silos, provides visibility to staff into what other career opportunities might await them in the business. Transparency is a way of sparking ambition, not just promoting collaboration and enabling understanding how one’s work affects others.

2. Lunch with junior staff. Regular, frank interactions with junior staff enable innovative ideas to reach a leader, which might normally not, and provide insight into the operating of the business that might not otherwise have been had.

3. Just pay the severance. A generous severance package that enables removal of a non-performing manager costs the business far less by orders of magnitude as opposed to the millions or tens of millions of euros lost by keeping the manager in place.

4. You can fire people legally in Japan. You simply must follow a judicious process according to local laws and regulations, just like in any other country in the world. If any HR director tells you otherwise, fire him or her.

5. Never give up on change. You will encounter setbacks when attempting change. Don’t give up because you think it is too hard. Try something else. Be patient, but determined.

6. All you need are two “multipliers.” For any kind of organizational change, as soon you have two multipliers—that is to say people in the organization who are on board and will help with the change—you know that you are on your way to success.

7. Start with the highest level leaders. Any change must start with the leaders at the top. You will achieve no progress by attempting organizational change below, if mid-level leaders are not already on board. No matter how willing staff may be, they take on change only to the degree of their immediate managers. A recalcitrant layer of mid-level managers will block all change from above from reaching staff below. I call this the refraction layer.

8. People make buying decisions based on emotion. All the other service, quality and responsiveness of after-market care are only rationalizations for the emotional decision already made. The good experience with the product keeps customers coming back for more.

9. Eschew harmony. It is disharmony in the business that drives healthy growth.

Apply these nine insights in your organization to create accelerated growth. Click To Tweet

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