Do you recognize the following pattern?
Employees are expected to be creative, think outside the box, in order to innovate products and services, including the very business processes that create and deliver those value propositions.
Yet, their ideas are judged on the existence of scientific–peer-reviewed–evidence, or on what thought-leaders have to say on the topic, or on the popularity of current best-practices, or even against the opinion of a focus group. And, without offering any valid countervailing arguments, the messenger is ridiculed. When was the last time that innovation came from the masses?
This all too common pattern of behavior creates unnecessary friction and conflict between employees and decision makers, comparable to driving with one foot on the accelerator and the other firmly on the brake. I have experienced instances where people whose work is disrupted by systemic problems, and who know a solution to restore system integrity. Unfortunately, their leaders don’t approve because they don’t believe in the theory that predicts the solution’s outcome. Such patterns of behavior are indicative of timid, risk-averse leadership; people who lack vision, imagination, and curiosity.
May I suggest you take the Wright brothers as an example of vision, imagination, and curiosity. The Wrights collected all that was known about aviation at that time from the most eminent pioneers in the field; their best practices so to speak. However, the brothers’ interest went beyond a desire to solve problems; they wanted to discover the principles of flight. In other words, they wanted to know WHY a machine would fly as opposed to HOW one could make a machine fly.
Once they falsified the validity of their contemporaries’ data through scientific testing, they relied on their own minds, and its programming through studying physics and mathematics. They applied critical thinking in sometimes heated debates among themselves. The origin of their success was in the use of, and reliance on, known scientific principles and methodologies, rather than the results of trial-and-error experiments performed by their contemporaries. Today, many people call such an independent approach a “secret”, which it is not because these methods have been mainstream for a very long time. Even though it is your prerogative to denounce, for example, the law of gravity but you do so at your own peril; it works regardless of your belief in its validity!
Business leaders behave hardly any differently. All they want, or even demand, are solutions; the latest-and-greatest in best-practices, which promise success by following only a limited number of steps. In other words, you just Do It; without any thinking, let alone critical thinking to question the validity of the theoretic basis of any of those prescribed solutions, and above all, with no personal involvement from executive decision makers. (Yet, many decision makers are only too eager describing themselves as a “hands-on leader”, once the effort succeeds and garners publicity.) As I wrote before, Prescription without diagnosis is malpractice.
Therefore, let me raise the following question. Could it be possible that the biggest obstacle to success is not the nature of a systemic problem itself, but leadership’s attitude towards proper change management practices? Let’s not forget:
- A single unintended and unwanted result can have a wide range of causes.
- A single cause can have a wide range of unintended and unwanted effects.
- Once you know the root of a dysfunction, you no longer need to explore its countless manifestations.
So, would you rather play a game of Whack-a-Mole or take a more scientific approach as the Wright brothers did? Would you rather fill your mind with random solutions, or program your mind with principles of success and failure? Is your change management acuity fully dependent on the counsel of outside consultants or are you an independent thinker?
Yes, I am aware that no single individual can succeed all by themselves. However, the better your insights into a given situation, the better and more poignant the questions you pose to others will be, and the better the answers you’re about to receive.
And, sometimes you’ll just have to have faith that the solution you’re looking for will be provided by other people–once they have figured out the problems they are struggling with–by the time you have solved yours. Take for example Sir Frank Whittle, inventor of the jet engine. He trusted that metallurgic engineers would have found the right alloy for the construction of combustion chambers for his engine by the time he solved his own design challenges. And, that’s how it happened.
CEO Adventure describes principles that connect management disciplines taught in business school–such as leadership, finance, marketing, branding, and logistics–into a singular, unique, integrated, and open business system. This connecting the dots is what I call “Management Integration”.
Instead of PRE-scribing HOW to do your job as a leader, CEO Adventure DE-scribes methods that you can apply in order to create your own solutions to your change management challenges. As a result, you will discover the principles that make you successful, just like the Wright brothers. By the way, did you know that the principles they developed back in 1903 are still valid today?
Call me at (858) 344-1137 to check my availability for your next seminar or mentoring session on proper Change Management practices.
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