Monday, December 12, 2011

With 2012 Around the Corner, It May Be Time for a Mental Makeover

Businesses invest enormous amounts of time and money in 3-year plans and strategies with the hope for certainty.  Yet, the environment changes so rapidly that the 3-year plan becomes obsolete after the year one leaving many businesses to run on an obsolete model. 

Even the most ambitious plans and strategies expire and have an expiration date. New capital and employees have a way of conforming to the existing culture rather than generating long term change.

That cultural mindset is often the product of the founder who has gotten to where he is because of specific skill sets, knowledge base and belief system, which unfortunately all come with inherent limits.  Why?  Skills, knowledge… come from what he or she already knows or has experienced.  In other words, it comes from the past.  We (people) make our future decisions based on what we’ve experienced.  However, just because something worked in the past, doesn’t mean it is appropriate for the future.

Therefore, lasting changes have to start with the way people think.  Altering the inherent mindset requires you to set goals beyond your core competencies and persistently think them through.  It is a way to train yourself and people to get out of the proverbial comfort zone.  

Pursuing goals in an area that is unfamiliar or where you don’t have all the necessary knowledge could be intimidating.  At the same time, in the words of Henry Ford, “if you believe you can or you believe you can’t, you’re right”.  It is the mindset that allows people to accomplish that which has never been done.

For example, in the 1930s, German scientists stated that they would build a machine to fly to the moon.  This was a huge problem.  In fact, most people thought they were insane.  Yet, their commitment to fly to the moon empowered them to develop jet propulsion and the missile. 

Although they didn’t fly to the moon, they did invent the technology which served as a platform for man to fly to the moon 30 years later.  More importantly, the point is they had a mindset that allowed them to accomplish many successes, even though it was in an area where there was no knowledge or blueprint.  They created the knowledge for others to follow. 

This strategy is much more effective than creating a 3 year plan and hoping for consistency.  These scientists from the 1930s disrupted the future. 

 A New Model

Looking to the future of organizations, there may be a greater return on investment from training people to be more malleable.  That way, innovators can learn to let go of old thought patterns, do away with assumptions and uncover blind spots.

In the book “Risk Intelligence,” David Apagar says that the biggest problem people have when faced with risk is that they know too much.  What they know too much about is themselves.  To often, we identify ourselves by presupposed limits and capabilities based on previous successes and failures.

So, before you start implementing new plans, strategies and hiring the perfect employee, look at your mindset and the mindset of your enterprise.  A new outlook can help you see things you couldn’t see before or empower you to work effectively through insurmountable challenges. 

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