“…it’s doubtful if the Brits will relate much too it either as we have a fairly low bullshit threshold! And the rational Dutch certainly wont – try it on a Delft engineer!”: “Top managers in Shell and aspirant top managers are a well-educated and talented bunch. They don’t believe that business can be helped by the sort of platitudinous nonsense that has been promulgated under their CEO’s name.“
COMMENT BY A ROYAL DUTCH SHELL RELATED SOURCE ON PETER VOSER SUPERBUCKETS LEAKED MESSAGE
Shell has for two or three decades had a predilection for the type of message that Voser is pushing out today. Really there is nothing new – just a reassembly of platitudes along with some new buzzwords. In my experience in Shell this sort of thing had no effect at all on behaviour or performance. The driver for it was probably British consultants who were given a brief to raise morale and encourage staff. It’s worth pointing out that less than 5% of Shell employees work in the UK and these would not naturally respond to English language and Anglo-Saxon nuanced statements of this sort. Indeed it’s doubtful if the Brits will relate much too it either as we have a fairly low bullshit threshold! And the rational Dutch certainly wont – try it on a Delft engineer!
Shell is operational in over 100 countries and although there is more centralisation than ever in the way the Company is managed it is still very much a multicultural business. For many terms like “key differentiators” will be untranslatable and largely incomprehensible. Ten years or so ago we were into “Key Performance Indicators and were being encouraged to “drill down” and innovate in our businesses. That was the era that gave us Phil Watts and the reserves scandal! The fact is that Shell managers are competent businessmen and they know that the traditional measures of performance are usually adequate. Profits. Costs. Cashflow. ROACE. Market Share…. and so on. These managers would see a call to “Reflect on the growth opportunities” to “Think about how you can build on and apply our differentiators” and to “consider your role in providing customers and partners with value and reasons for wanting to do business with us.” utterly facile and banal.
Top managers in Shell and aspirant top managers are a well-educated and talented bunch. They don’t believe that business can be helped by the sort of platitudinous nonsense that has been promulgated under their CEO’s name. Over the years the more experienced managers will have heard it all before from the farce of Cor Herkstroter’s “Core Purpose” and “Corporate Identity” confusion (“Helping people build a better world”) through “transformation” , “Value Creation” and so on – and on!
Voser’s “Energy is vital in sustaining life and enabling progress around the globe. I’m convinced we have the people, the brand and the technology focus to be the world’s most competitive and innovative energy company.” is no different from the Maurice Saatchi inspired bullshit that Herkstroter peddles unsuccessfully more than a decade ago. Then it was “Shell cares about its customers and the world in which we live , so we innovate to make life better” Shell didn’t innovate then and hasn’t since – at least no more so than any other Energy multinational. The presumed differentiation is an arrogant chimera. Again.