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Tuesday, June 10, 2014
How Do You Create a Culture for Breakthroughs?
"The problem, if you love it, is as beautiful as the sunset."
– Jiddu Krishnamurti
Is it possible for a CEO to create a new future for their
organization?A big part of the
CEO’s job is to do just that.Yet,
many companies don’t invent the future.They maintain status quo.As a result, they become casualties of the economy or worse, the
competition?Inventing the future
requires one to
rock the boat.Doing so, results in innovative products and services or significant
cost cutting initiatives.
Nevertheless, many organizations choose to protect status quo
because they are too vested in the existing infrastructure.On the other hand, when you look at
extraordinary leaders, you find a complete disruption of status quo.
Breaking the Rules
So, what separates extraordinary leaders from proponents of status
quo?They break the rules.Except, it is not arbitrary or
capricious.When you look at
examples of extraordinary, like the Founding Fathers of the United States or
Jack Welch of GE, certain practices or principles become apparent.To start, there is a declared
intention.There is also a purpose
or something to stand for and finally there is a clearly articulated
·A powerful declaration can create a quantum
leap.It is a way of saying what
the future will be, instead of being at the effect of the future.However, when you declare a possibility
that you have never accomplished before, it simultaneously creates a
problem.Depending on the mindset
of the leader, that problem could be viewed as something to avoid.Similarly, the same problem can be
viewed as an opportunity to uncover what is missing between where you are and
where you want to be.The
declaration creates the future and paves the way for what people are standing
·A stand is similar to the purpose.It is what unites people.It is what people want to be part of
now and in the future.It creates
the consciousness or value system.
·A clearly defined commitment determines what
actions one will take.The
commitment supports the declaration.More importantly, it helps one understand who they have to be to carry
out the declaration.
This article will look at leaders who created problems to disrupt
the present and forge ahead into a new future.We will also uncover the strategies and practices they
implemented to effectuate long-standing changes.The article will also discuss what made it possible for them
to continue creating the future.
Leaders Separate Themselves from Ordinary Leaders
Leaders do not have the luxury of falling back into their comfort
zone.In some cases, creating a
problem is designed to transform an existing problem.In other cases, it is designed to create a new and
For example, when the Founding Fathers declared independence from
Great Britain, they created a problem to solve the existing problem of
taxation, among other issues.At
the same time, that problem made it possible for a new and innovative nation to
be born.Without the problem our
Founding Fathers created, the US would still be a colony, paying taxes to Great
Britain all the while having no representation in Parliament.
Similarly, when a leader declares the future for his or her
company, this inherently creates a “problem”, mostly because there is no
blueprint yet.More importantly,
there is no proof or evidence that it can be accomplished.Declaring a future which, does not
exist, requires everyone involved to risk walking through the proverbial dark
tunnel.The declaration breaks
from the past or the status quo, demanding new thoughts, new needs and
certainly new skills and competencies.
In addition, an extraordinary leader must take a stand for
something bigger than the problem that has been created. This stand becomes the
new value system of the organization, much like our Founding Fathers took a
stand for freedom (press, religion, speech…).It becomes the platform from which to speak.It also becomes the common ground for
everyone to be a part of.We are
still a nation that stands for freedom.A powerful stand inspires and motivates people.Out of this inspiration and motivation
people are driven to innovate.When people are empowered to be innovative, their commitment increases.
They have a chance to take new actions and be proud of their accomplishments.
Finally, our Founding Fathers were highly committed to building a
nation.So much so, they created
an unprecedented constitution.When leaders take actions which are correlated with their commitment,
they set the example for others to follow.
In another example, when Jack Welch became the CEO of GE, there
was nothing wrong with the enterprise.It was not in distress or in need of a turn around.Yet, he was committed to building an
extraordinary corporation.So, he
created a problem.He declared
that every business unit had to be number one or number two in its respective
industry.If they were not, the
unit would be sold.If your unit
were ranked number six in its industry, you would have had a problem.
At the same time, Welch stood for his people.Instead of micro managing them, he
ensured they had the appropriate training and development to fulfil his
Declaration, stand and commitment are practices used by high
performing leaders, athletes and artists.In some cases, people have not distinguished them as practices.Nevertheless, once distinguished, it
helps a person clearly distinguish the future as well as the necessary actions
to fulfill it.
Continuing to Create the Future
Many companies have fulfilled their declaration.In the meantime, they are maintaining
status quo.Unless corporations
create new declarations, their future will continue to experience results which
resemble the past, with the addition of more, better or different.Quantum leaps require bold declarations
and a clear committed mindset to navigate though change.
What do you think? I’m open to ideas. Or if you want to
write me about a specific topic, let me know.