Prepare yourself for a flurry of commemorations later this year when it will have been 20 years since the Berlin Wall fell signalling the demise of East vs West thinking. There will be plenty of books published, and in his book, ‘Revolution 1989: The Fall of the Soviet Empire’, Victor Sebestyen makes some fascinating observations about the period.
In some fairly heavy going academic text he argues that it wasn’t the irresistible allure of Western capitalism, Levi’s Jeans and Coca-Cola that lead to the demise of the Soviet Union. It wasn’t the strong rhetoric of Reagan and, closer to home, Thatcher that made the difference. It wasn’t even the courage and leadership of the Polish priest who became Pope John Paul II and stirred up thoughts of freedom in Poland, along with Solidarność.
The core argument is that the Soviet empire was just not very good at anything. There was little left to defend and so a safe transition to jobs in a democracy looked like a good idea.
Some businesses develop a hugely successful model of just being good enough to be better than the competition, take a little bit of slack out of the processes, spend a little more time listening to customers, demonstrate a smidge more care in product design and manufacture and it will be enough to bring customers over to you.
Great employers know it too. It’s not just money and brand that keep great employees. Spending a bit more time coaching them, offering a few extra opportunities to develop, creating a few new delegation opportunities all lead to happier more motivated employees.
You may not need grand gestures and great rhetoric to work through the recession, you just need better customer service and employee management than your competitors.