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“Embrace new ideas to rise above mediocrity”

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” These words of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, offered to his philosopher friend, Horatio, come to mind when one thinks of the knowledge that a business owner or manager nurtures in order to face these particularly lengthy, challenging times of crisis. The words of Emil Cioran are also worth storing in our collective consciousness: “The mediocrity of a manager can be seen in the number of precise ideas he asserts with confidence.” That is an excellent barometer for measuring the quality of many we encounter in our jobs every day. In this new corporate culture that is to be recreated and redefined (and, in certain cases, created from scratch), it is essential we take heed of the words of both Hamlet and Cioran and seek out new ideas, new ways of interpreting and speaking about things, and new ways of governing unprecedented levels of complexity. In two of his recent works, Che cos’è il management (“What Is Management”, published by Mind) and Il lungo addio e altri racconti (“The Long Goodbye and other stories”, published by Metamorfosi), Pier Luigi Celli, a business manager known for his many success stories (with, for example, Olivetti, Enel, Unicredit, and Rai, where he was the general manager) and the current director general of the university LUISS in Rome, puts into question the traditional bag of managerial tricks, which are now unsuited to times that have cut into those hierarchical certainties and organisational powers governed by more “quantitative” parameters and standards of administration (i.e. the whole sub-culture obsessed with growth in volumes and not in quality),to, instead, focus on other cultures no longer based on mere authoritarian command, but on true authority in leadership, in motivating people and in developing the business. In short, a culture of values that go beyond just value as an expression of profit. We are living in controversial times made of uncertainty and change. Our vertical models have been torn down by knowledge and capabilities that prefer the horizontal (aided and abetted by the internet and other new information and communication technologies, as well as by the crumbling of out-dated social and political institutions),so managerial powers and the way businesses are organised must react to the metamorphoses and other radical revolutions that are taking place. In order to avoid “empty-suit” syndrome and the collapse of powers, organisations and functions, we must give room to new ideas and not just discount them as something that is “already known”. Ideas that look to the future, that raise questions and that are able to fit within the “crisis” and interpret both the threats and the opportunities for turning things around. A manager must be an innovator, Celli insists, one who is able to nurture and convey a passion for a challenge and for building something new. Someone with “a soul”.