Unilever and Proctor & Gamble

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Yohaan Samuel

A Frenchman named Henri Fayol (1841-1925), although an engineer came up with a theory. He changed the thoughts of business administration and sculpted a structure of management that is practiced even now in this day and age by a vast number of companies worldwide. This theory of his, now commonly known as ‘The 14 principles of management by Fayol’ is going to be applied in two mega-organisations such as Uniliver and Proctor & Gamble (P&G): Proctor & Gamble and Unilever are two big multinational corporations that manufacture a large range of consumer goods such as beverages, food, personal care products, products for the home, etc. The former is an American multinational corporation while the latter is a Dutch-British multinational corporation. In around 1997, Unilever decided that it was time to start living up to its potential. The new objective to increase focus and improve results, unsurprisingly become a priority. Clear direction was set and it was agreed almost unanimously that the company should direct its focus on specific tasks and products that mattered. For instance, the sale of the chemicals business in 1997, although considered as a very promising prospect, if having been allowed to remain in the portfolio would have resulted in a deviation of managerial attention, labour, funding, etc. This helped Unilever channel more of its time and energy into their other products as they didn’t have to worry about the chemical business anymore. This and other such instances eventually lead to a steep growth in the development for Unilever. In the 1990s, Unilever realized that it wasn’t developing and growing very fast – both in terms of profit and size. The chief of the many problems was that they focused a considerable amount of time and energy on too many tasks, most of which did not require that much attention. Eventually, Unilever realized that although they had the adequate knowledge and means to grow on a much faster and larger scale, not enough was done to exploit the economy to cause a serious and desirable growth spurt for them. A serious lacking of initiative was only but obvious. Although there was creativity, there was no one to take up the baton and run with the idea. Initiative doesn’t stop at the idea. What makes it count is when the idea blazes into a reality through the sparks of execution. Since the start of the new century, ideas were executed and the steady growth was inevitable. And to encourage this, Unilever invested US$1 billion for the year 2001 dedicated for the purpose of research and development. It also added an extra US$ 5.7 billion for the marketing of its products. In an inspirational movie Remember the Titans (2000); the coach of a high school American-football team is faced with the task of uniting his players who are of both races, black and white. At that time, due to the circumstances regarding racism, to even think of equity between the two previously mentioned races as a possibility would be madness. And to add to the coach’s mountain of a situation, he needed acceptance into his team as he was an African American. But one line that doesn’t fail to speak to the heart of the viewer is when Coach Boone, standing on the same ground where the Gettysburg Battle was fought, expresses the desire for his team to develop the espirt de corps by crying out these words to his team, “If we don’t come together on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed!” Equity and esprit de corps go hand-in-hand. And Unilever, recognizing that they were one of the most international companies in the world, ensured that by first settling the fact that each person was equal to another and nobody was higher than another by race, religion, sex or any other factor. Because without realizing equity, people cannot develop the espirt de corps which requires harmony and unity among...
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