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?

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