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Leadership, Ideology and Value Creation

A few years ago, the CFO of a large digital marketing firm, successful by any financial measure, acknowledged that 'we are billing around $80 million a year, and we don't know what we are doing. What would our revenue line be if we knew what we were doing?' All of us might recall meeting corporate executives that were lacking the insights needed to find answers to their own questions. Most professionals learn how to give answers to the questions raised by others, but they rarely know what questions to ask. And this has to be blamed on their education. Asking the right questions is part of the pursuit of pure knowledge, and at the risk of generalizing here, business graduates are rarely exposed to any frameworks conducive to the pursuit of pure knowledge, and to little or no ideology on the basis of which they should apply in practice marketing methods, statistics, or strategy. I believe that without an ideological framework, one does not know why they are learning what they are learning. This lack of knowing the answer to the question 'why' weeds itself into organizations, with the result of people not knowing why they are doing what they are doing.

The title of this section went through quite a few changes in the course of the many drafts written for this book, and in every one of these changes, the word ideology was placed in a different location, either at the end, sometimes in the middle and only once, when I started writing this book, at the beginning. That title was 'Ideology and Value Creation' and it felt a bit too strong, in the sense that the word ideology was prominent. This anxiety was based on frequent misunderstandings around the word ideology in the context of enterprise. For an enterprise, ideology must have the same meaning as politics, in the sense of being the art of influencing people, aligning them toward a specific goal, which is shared by a group, and directing their passions and actions toward what could be possible. This common direction builds the values from which an enterprise extracts its ethos, energy and creativity.

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