Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Faking It

Often referred to by the phrase "fake it till you make it" is a philosophy that exists on the premise that starting with the end point will naturally fill in the gaps that get you there. If you keep acting it out then it will become a habit and eventuate.

The problem with this is we become creatures of habit rather than engaging with the reason "why" we do things. We miss the problem, or “root cause” and embed into our culture a "process" rather than a "passion" and may even fail to help us realise the end benefit.

The common approach for leaders to continually take a helicopter view can inadvertently cause us to lose an important element of engaging our people.

Ever flown to another city and tried to describe or even relate to the intervening countryside below? With the people, towns, culture or even weather that made up the distance in the space in between? You might like to think that you can identify with what its like down there, but you simply can’t because you bypassed all that, and jumped straight to the end destination.

We often attempt to do this with our organisations and people by developing strategies, defining values and behaviours hopefully inspiring our people to move to that place as if by "defining" certain behaviour it will happen.

We have become so used to "fast-tracking" our lives and utilising instant technology we have skipped the importance of actually "traveling" the distance. What works for point to point air travel simply can’t be applied to much of our business or simply achieved by establishing values, behaviours, a charter or a value statement.

There is a story about a child that asked his mum why she chopped off the end of the turkey before putting it in the oven. His mum replied that she thought it helped the meat cook better inside but maybe he should ask his grandmother. The child went to his grandmother and asked the question again. His grandmother responded saying that she thought it allowed the juices to flow through the meat enhancing its flavour but maybe he should ask his great grandmother. The child went on to his great grandmother and again asked the same question. His great grandmother turned to him and replied. "Dear that was because my oven was too small."

Just like the things that have influenced our personal development, aspects of our organisation must be "ground truthed" or experienced. This means getting out of the aircraft and "walking" the journey. It is by doing this we can see what is really happening, smell the air and "identify" with our people what’s really going on. 

It is our interaction with the ground that will both mature our outlook and authenticate the communication you need to have, firstly with your people and then with your customer.

Failure to do this will also smother innovation and detract our people from thinking for themselves. If we don't understand and experience the "why" we won’t identify any problem or nail the solution.

Are we trying to look the part? Have we really understood the problem? Are we applying a helicopter solution rather than deal with or understand the root source?

Is what you are espousing authentic and able to be challenged?
Are you inadvertently causing your people to fake it?

Could you be faking it?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Where there is a will

Where there is a "will" there is a way.

A saying that has been around for a long long time but often neglected for its truth.

Some of the things that we keep developing and coming back to in our organisations may be no different to those aspirational "new year resolutions" that we never really commit to personally. 

We know we need to do something so we keep coming back and working at it again. We might assign a new working party or undertake another workshop but if we look back we can see that we end up with same stuff, and ultimately the need for the same course of action. It might be green with yellow stripes this time, but it’s essentially the same as the red one underneath.

It might be a program, review or proposal that has never got past that. It could be a project that got to the 80% stage and progressed no further or values and behaviours that we aspire to, but never seem to achieve.

Quite often I hear organisational leaders espouse the desires and direction for the organisation or team with the picture of what that should look like but that's as far as it seems to go. The issue is why?

Many might suggest that this is because we don't know how to get there, however I might suggest it's because we are too afraid to go there and thus never really commit our "will" to it!

Health practitioners will tell you that the fundamental 'will' to change your diet or quit smoking is the key to success. It won't be peer pressure but a personal and deep down 'will' to change.

If we keep looking to change but don't, then it is our fear or unwillingness we need to address. That’s nonsense, I hear you saying, I am a leader I am not afraid or unwilling! No?

In many cases, whether it's in business or our personal lives we have a fear of leaving the known and moving to an unknown or exposed position. Even if our current state is flawed, at least we know how it works. We excuse ourselves by wanting it fully thought through and 100% guaranteed and perfect before we take the next step. Many times that’s just not possible and we use that as our platform to stay where we are.

We also have an image or persona which is built around our current state. We are afraid that the change would send a message to our clients or community that we were wrong somehow, wouldn't it? Afraid it will affect our credibility. Our image.

The problem here is the fact that your credibility is now already in question isn't it?

Are you seeking another program, rewrite or review failing to make the change or release it hoping that it might tell you a different story?

Could you be responding in fear? 

Where there is a will there is a way.
Where there is no will... there is no way!

Are you really willing?