Former President and CEO of Porsche AG Presents Smith Lectureship in Business at Mount Union College

April 07, 2010

Flawless execution of the fundamentals allows ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results said Peter W. Schutz, former president and CEO of Porsche AG, speaking to business students, faculty and administration members at the Smith Lectureship in Business at Mount Union College on April 18.

The topic of Schutz' discussion was "Getting Extraordinary Results from Ordinary People." Schutz served as president and CEO of Porsche AG of Stuttgart, West Germany from 1981-1988, during which time Porsche's worldwide sales went from 28,000 units in 1981 to a peak of 53,000 units in 1986. He told the Mount Union students that he wanted to "share some of the things that have worked for me, to help make the challenging career ahead of you more successful and more fun."

In the business world, everyone is looking for an edge, Schutz explained. He discovered that edge is not found in having a great accountant, the most intelligent employees or the most innovative product. "Innovation is fleeting and fickle," said Schutz. "Your competition will jump on the bandwagon and level the playing field." The edge is found in managers getting extraordinary results from ordinary people.

"I am an ordinary person," said Schutz. "Somehow I have managed to do extraordinary things - but not alone."

Schutz compared being a manager to being a parent. He said it is a "nurturing challenge" that allows "employees to grow, so that ordinary people can grow to do extraordinary things."

There are two basic responsibilities of a manager, according to Schutz. Managers make decisions and get those decisions implemented. Making decisions is easy, but getting decisions implemented is the hard part, Schutz cautioned. He went on to say that most managers make decisions like a dictator and then try to implement those decisions like a democracy, while in his experience, the exact opposite is more effective.

"If you make decisions like a dictator, those working for you might not share your vision," said Schutz. "Making a decision like a democracy won't be faster, and it won't ensure a better quality decision. But a flawed decision well implemented will have better results than the best decision implemented poorly. In order to ensure the job is implemented well, you need to get people to go at the job with commitment."

Once a manager has everyone committed, Schutz says that "flawless execution of fundamentals" is crucial. "A team of ordinary people committed to a common purpose will outperform a team of superstars," said Schutz.

Schutz was born in Berlin, Germany. He and his family moved to Chicago when he was nine years old. He received his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Prior to his tenure at Porsche AG, Schutz spent 15 years working in various positions for the Caterpillar Tractor Company. Subsequently, he served in various positions at Cummins Engine Company, including eight years as vice president for sales and service of truck engines in the United States and Canada.

Schutz has lectured on management techniques in the United States and internationally. He and his wife, Sheila, operate Harris & Schutz, Inc.

The Smith Lectureship in Business was established in 2001 by C. Richard Smith, a 1953 graduate of Mount Union College. The purpose of this Lectureship is to bring business professionals to the Mount Union College campus to share their knowledge and experience with business students, faculty and others from the campus and local community.

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