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Changing Gears

25 November 2014

Another F1 season has finished and the talented man from Stevenage is double world champion. But for a devoted Ferrari fan it is another season of watching my beautiful team sink to lows I haven’t experienced since I was a 12 year old, watching them for the first time with my older brothers.

The pace of change in F1 is nothing new, especially in a world of super high performance vehicles and technology to make a NASA scientist blush. What is new is the way the Scuderia have reacted to trying to keep pace with their competitors which led me to thinking about how my sector has changed this year.

First we started with the old guard. Stefano Domenicali was the Team Principal who had been with the team longer than I have been alive. He was deeply rooted in the magic and legend of the prancing horse. He made way when the powers brokers decided we needed a new, fresh take on things. Sounds familiar to the moves in the Social Housing arena where Chief Executives who were once synonymous with their organisations, are retiring, leaving or subtly absorbed by others into larger more ‘competitive’ structures.

Then came the new face – Marco Mattiacci. The business man from North America, whose influence and control of people were thought to be what we were missing. He was a man to align the stars and bring back the success. Only this didn’t happen. What he missed was the fact that to have people onside, influenced and driven to do well he needed to gain their respect. Not out of fear, nor out of the fact he has Team Principal on his badge. In the end he alienated the person, who for me is the most complete, all round and dare I say ‘best’ driver on the grid…Sound familiar??

Some of the appointments made by Social Housing teams have been bold. A statement of change in our world of dwindling government finances and the closer, stronger ties with our tenants. But without taking the time to understand how the organisation is run, who we are run for and what we stand for are we risking the same conclusions? Social Housing teams are run by people who believe whole heartedly they are making a difference. I certainly don’t want to see our best staff leave due to politics and a misunderstanding of what they need to get the job done.

So to the future, with yet another new face at the helm in Maurizio Arrivabene. The man from Philip Morris who understands Ferrari’s F1 History. I hope they give him the time and resources he needs to get us back on track… otherwise I’ll have to see if they need an Interim Solution.

Suresh Lal, Consultant

Suresh is a Consultant in the Social Housing, read Suresh’s profile.

Categories: Social Housing


Simon Marks at 30/11/2014 13:17 said:

It is a universal truth that "to have people onside, influenced and driven to do well you needed to gain their respect, not out of fear, nor out of the fact he has The Boss" on his badge. And to gain respect you have to give respect and show some humility acknowledging that you do not know everything and everyone has an important role to play be it in F!, social housing or any other hierarchical organisation. You only need to look at how well the Pope is doing!

Rob Allen at 25/11/2014 17:52 said:

A good post Suresh. The world of F1 and Social Housing have little in common (in my opinion) when it comes to concepts of leadership/management and innovation. The former looks beyond industry boundaries and silo thinking to innovate at pace. The latter seems obsessed with quantification, 'best practice' within the industry and is still wedded to Taylorism. I would argue that when faced with exponential complexity and uncertainty (as social housing arguably is) it is vital to take a holistic view of both the enterprise and the current issues under consideration.

I also believe that it is both possible and can indeed add value to an enterprise when people with a range of experiences in different industries come together to collaborate and co create, sharing knowledge and ideas, what I term interdisciplinary management.

The alternative is a future predetermined and constrained by an insistence on prior industry experience, ever restrictive client briefs and an inability to consider a broader transferable skillset.

We need to unlock the creative capacity that all human beings have, which is being squandered by narrow thinking. Taylorism is still prevalent in business and management and dare I say the social housing industry.