Leading in Times of Change
many issues with which we wrestle each day, one certain truth is: the future
will not look like the present. Global competition, technology, and innovation
will define the future. Yet many leaders continue to lead, manage, and operate
as they have in the past.
There is a story by Price Pritchett in which he recounts his experience of viewing firsthand a life and death struggle that occurred just a few feet away from where he was sitting. He was watching a fly burn out the last of its short life’s energy in a futile attempt to fly through the glass of a windowpane. The frenzied effort of the fly gave no hope for survival. Ironically, had the fly just flown in another direction, it could have easily escaped through an open door.
All too often, we are like the fly. We try harder doing the same things, when instead we need to do different things. We must break the shackles of conformity, challenge the routine, and break out of existing paradigms. At the core of succeeding in today’s competitive environment is the ability to constantly improve and reinvent the way we do business. The key to working smarter is knowing the difference between motion and direction, between activity and focused action.
To lead, we must be adept at balancing what must stay constant with what must change. Nurture a culture in which people are encouraged to seek new and better methods, while feeling secure in the familiar and in the future success of their organization. Align all resources and strategies toward the realization of the vision and goals.
Alignment is the balanced harmony between people, processes, resources, and departments. It is a matter of aligning your vision with people, strategy, structure, and processes with focus on the customer and a foundation of core values. Because they are interdependent, they must be congruent. When all five critical components are aligned, results will continue to improve. If there is conflict between any two issues, there can be dissolution of the whole. If people have the knowledge necessary to create positive change, but your processes make it too difficult for them to do so, motivation will wane and maintaining the status quo remains easier. If you are able through a shared vision to raise the level of motivation that exists in your organization, but your structure restricts innovation or high levels of productivity, the improvement will be temporary at best. All of the parts are important to the whole. Everyone becomes focused on doing the right things right, which results in organizational health, accelerated positive change, and strategic growth. Encourage people to be responsible for their own performance. When all five critical organizational components are aligned with a focus on the customer, results will continue to improve.
“I am enthusiastic over humanity’s extraordinary and sometimes very timely ingenuity. If you are in a shipwreck and all the boats are gone, a piano top buoyant enough to keep you afloat may come along and make a fortuitous life preserver. This is not to say, though, that the best way to design a life preserver is in the form of a piano top. I think that we are clinging to a great many piano tops in accepting yesterday’s fortuitous contrivings as constituting the only means for solving a given problem.” R. Buckminster Fuller ((July 12, 1895 – July 1, 1983) was an American engineer, author, designer, inventor, and futurist.