Bad habits spread quickly, travel from the top down and infect ever-widening public circles. The clearest example: the Israeli government has no national strategy, and with this lack of strategy it infects not only the political class, but how businesses operate.
Instead of businesses teaching the government how to prepare for the future, the government is teaching businesses how to survive without strategic thinking. More and more companies are adopting the government’s basic attitude towards serious national problems, which can be summarized as “sit and do nothing.”
Don’t do anything, don’t investigate anything, and don’t make an effort to formulate a diplomatic plan appropriate for our changing reality. It’s redundant; I settled for going with the flow. And please do not forget to search indefatigably for whom to blame for your situation. That is the certain prescription for survival and longevity.
Mega. Management failed to see the retailer's coming demise. (Photo: Roi Idan)
The ideology of being passively dragged around, according to which governments behave, is permeating the boards of corporations that choose to make do with euphemistic, bloodless decisions that carry no risk – and have no chance of being effective. This can be seen clearly in the rising trend of Israeli technology and information companies being bought by large foreign companies. Not by chance, such a sale is known as an “exit.”
The sale does indeed provide an “exit.” It frees the founder-owners from the need to come up with a long-term business strategy and allows them to enjoy the comfort zone, sitting in the lap of the corporation that purchased their company. Let it take care of future development and lead the way. Those responsible for the fall of retail chain Mega are many, and they will be exposed in time by the courts.
One source of trouble will not be included in this list and won’t be taken into financial account: The lack of a business strategy for managing the chain’s affairs. Those responsible are the major shareholders, who appointed the chain’s managers and ignored its quick decline. The kibbutz representatives’ behavior is especially disappointing. They should have been especially aware of a glaring lack of strategic thinking, as they’ve already experienced its consequences. After all, a kibbutz which doesn’t keep strategy in mind is doomed to be dismantled, sooner or later.
Minister Bennet at the INSS conference. Shooting arrows at te wrong target. (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
Why did they assume this wouldn’t happen to Mega? And on what do we base our assumptions that this won’t happen to the state of Israel?
In the INSS (the Institute for National Security Studies) 2016 conference, Minister of Education Naftali Bennett strongly criticized the Israeli government’s mental rigidity, but he pointed his arrows at the wrong target. The country’s national security perceptions are actually updated every few years, and are a subject of thorough discussion for the IDF’s General Staff, the Knesset and its committees, and the public at large. The rigidity pointed out by Bennett actually exists somewhere else – namely in diplomatic affairs.
It’s marked by the tendency of Israeli statesmen to flee from anything that could be seen as significant change, whether it be left or right of the “center.” Being in the political “center” in the 2016 version of Israel means being an idealess politician; no movement, no innovation, no initiative, and of course – no strategy for the future. At most, a sprinkle of tactical thinking.
The Israeli government. No diplomatic strategy. (Photo: Amit Shavi, Yedioth Ahronoth)
Years ago, when communism still ruled in Eastern Europe, the Jewish-Polish science-fiction author Stanislaw Lem (whose books have been translated into Hebrew, among other languages) wrote a short story about a space pilot who arrives on an ice planet. Any small movement, even an accelerated heart rate, may melt the ice, which is forbidden. The pilot holds his breath and freezes in place, but still the ice begins to crack. Why? Because he’s thinking, and the energy of thought is melting it. Just don’t think, he whispers to himself, just don’t think, because that’s the only way to survive here.
Take a look at our senior statesmen: They’ve adopted the idea of “just don’t think” and have carved it into a tool of survival. They may indeed be surviving, but what about us, the civilians?