“Pulling (yourself) together”

LIQUI MOLY Managing Director Ernst Prost on getting down to work instead of waiting out the problem

Dear co-entrepreneurs,

 

It’s really complicated enough as it is. Nowadays, nothing is simple and problem-free anymore. Our business and our work are increasingly hampered by all kinds of bureaucratic and regulatory hurdles. So we don’t have to complicate things ourselves, make a huge fuss about nothing, or get excited about things that are really don’t get us anywhere. Concentration on the essentials, on our business, on our customers and on our brand – and thus on our livelihood and survival – that is what I expect from us in general, not just during the corona crisis. Please do not be distracted from this straight and narrow path!

The greatest chance of success for a winning strategy lies in its vigorous implementation … The best plan is of no use if its realization is only half-hearted. It is essential to think AND act. A certain amount of perseverance, and even a healthy amount of tenacity, is beneficial. Don’t give up – never, even if difficulties present themselves! Especially not when problems crop up. Stay on track and keep fighting! This in turn requires that you are convinced of your own ideas and visions, of your task and mission. You have to believe in what you’re doing … and, even better, also in yourself. Our house is well ordered and to keep it that way, we have to work, build and slave away. Hoping and waiting, or indulging in clever talk, are definitely not enough. We must parry the upheavals and transformations in our surroundings. Ducking for cover and hoping that everything stays the way it has always been (or simply gets better by itself) is childish. It is better to analyze relentlessly what is going on (or is going wrong) and then optimize, act, and tackle the job energetically. Errors should be faced head-on and eliminated thoroughly. It should never be a blame game, but always about continuous improvement.

Our overall economic and entrepreneurial development exhibits not only strengths, but also all kinds of weaknesses and dangers too – these are exactly the points we must tackle and improve! Problems do not go away by waiting them out. And you can’t impress anyone with the “old junk” of yesterday and yesteryear. Life is constant change – whether we like it or not. And if you don’t keep up with the times, you get left behind … In this regard, we have a healthy mixture of “old hands” and “spring chickens”. Routine and new beginnings. Experience and fresh ideas. I love this healthy mixture in our team.

If we want to do ourselves some good as well – which is not a bad thing – we must first do what is necessary: Generate sales, expand earnings, control costs, and develop sustainable concepts and strategies. We must never forget, because of all the bureaucracy imposed on us from outside, and because of similar strivings that arise within ourselves, that the company only thrives if we do our work prudently and energetically every day.

If we only deal with the Economic Affairs Committee, Compliance Officer, General Data Protection Regulation and the like and, in addition, invent all kinds of self-serving busybody programs, we will not have time for the important work with products, customers, production processes, suppliers and competitors. So before we dedicate ourselves to any voluntary “fun and games” and set off on new “heroic missions”, we always first have to order our affairs in the best possible way and radically improve things that are not going well, in order to master our core business. That gives us work enough. And that is what we are measured by and not by the volume of hot air and background noise that we can produce but that does not get us one inch farther. We are not a huge conglomerate or a government body, but a hard-hitting horde!

If you read the newspaper, you will (even in non-crisis situations) always come across headlines like: “Headcount reductions – for greater profit” or “Job cuts due to structural change”. In truth, here one has dozed through developments or basked in the success of past times, instead of changing course soon enough and pulling (oneself) together at the same time. We don’t want all this to happen to us, so I say “Beware of beginnings”! Please – especially in times of problems and even more in times of success – do not let up in our efforts and our performance! It is easier to win a competition with hardened muscles than if you are on your last legs. Fit and crisis-proof – that’s how I see us.

I can only quote the following thoughts on securing the future of our company: There are things we know we know. Then there are things we know we don’t know. And third, there are things we don’t even know we don’t know … Surprise!

Or, in other words: You only see what you know. Not only possibly but certainly, there are things that we do not know and of which we are not aware. So how are you supposed to prepare for that? The answer: Stay wide awake every day, concentrate on the essentials, get the job done, and don’t get distracted by unnecessary gimmicks. Stay modest and recognize what is within your grasp. Look where the journey is going, react consistently to changes, and don’t be afraid of change, but see it as an opportunity. And never make the same mistake as the donkey who went out to dance on the ice because he felt he was doing so well …

 

Yours,

Ernst Prost