The Fraser Canyon is beautiful and treacherous at the same time. It is not for new drivers as it is one of the oldest roads in B.C. Traversing this road takes skill, planning, and masterful execution to get through unscathed. It also takes familiarity with these roads to be able to set contingency measures along the way.
There are sharp turns, zigzags, and steep hills, and difficult narrow passes. It is important to stay awake, alert, and anticipatory of the next difficult move.
Taking sharp turns in management parlance has a different meaning. It means getting out of your normal situation (whatever that normal is) and taking risks to reinvent yourself, your organization, and your initiatives to take it to the next level, leaving behind anything that doesn't help you get there.
What are the signs saying that you need to take the next sharp turn? Traffic signs help you navigate difficult roads and alerting motorists of the potential dangers on the road. There are also signs that alert you that you are 'stuck' without you knowing:
1. People in the organization are defensive, conservative, and fearful of needful change;
2. People in the organization refuse to heed to environmental changes and trends that affect the business;
3. People are comfortable with the level of growth and do not want to 'rock' the boat that much;
4. Progress takes time and the next growth is such an uphill climb compared to when you are starting;
5. Deals run out, market shrinks, customers/clients stop buying for some reason;
6. The management is protective of earlier successes and cannot imagine a different future;
Some of these signs represent the truism that past success does not determine future performance.
Relaxing and cruising along is fine on a nice day in a nice road.
Do not do that when you are building your business or organization.
It's nice to reach a plateau.
You can have a break, walk around, smell the roses, enjoy the scenery, take some photos along the way, have a snack, and rest your legs after the long drive. But you can't stay too long.
All plateaus lead to a decline. While staying there increases pleasure and comfort, it doesn't allow you to reach new heights where you can experience a different level of accomplishment- the next summit.
Think about that in your organizational life and in your career trajectory.
You might be in a plateau too long to figure out you are running circles and not moving an inch to your destination.
Just completed my presentation at the annual CSAE Conference here in Vancouver. Lots of learning, networking, and building up the Canadian association sector's assets.
At the end of my speech, there is always something for everyone.
Well, when all else fails, the right diagnosis can lead you to the right solution.
If you haven’t failed, you might done so cautiously that you have not done at all, then doing so might be failing by default- JK Rowling
Mission-based organizations should think twice about creating more mission work without the full support and wisdom from a business sustainability standpoint.
Most of the time, they wrestle with the fact that since they have the work of helping, they should be able to marshal resources, support, and other important resources to fully realize their objectives. This is never automatic.
It takes a lot of courage and guts to realize that mission is not enough and will not be sufficient to carry the organization through its many stages of development.
If there is no evolution in management and business understanding, the mission becomes unproductive-"hence, give me because I give this back" will later on become subject to more critical and demanding requirements from society. This is painful to see as many organizations languish in near obsolescence without realizing their fullest potential.
There is only one way- to review their business model and ask the most important question: if this is not working for us, can we be flexible in getting to our objectives through an alternative model of doing and being?
Let's approach this with an open mind and an open heart.
If speakers, authors, and experts selling products and services have the following words: adaptive, agile, or disruptive, run to the hills.
It is just a fad and will not make your organization better if you just follow the hype, paying for a few hours of lecture, and without actually touching your organizations' operations, values, or ways of doing.
Change is an adversarial process. There will be blood for sure. There are no spectators sitting on the fence that will be successful.
Whether you are instituting changes in organizations, industries, movements, and in individual lives, you must be cognizant of patterns, parallels, and processes.
Patterns are what we see demonstrated (not verbally declared) and we cannot ignore. There are reasons why things are done the same way. You need to know if those reasons still valid and valuable or they passed their value and worth. Crafting the game plan for change is essentially building a case why the new is better than the old, answers to the needs, aspirations, and obsessions of that specific group. In psychology, patterns provide clues and keys to unraveling what groups and individuals face and unearth significant lessons to get your initiatives right. If you are looking at a systemic change, what patterns do you see in every parts of the system? What significant behaviors do they exhibit? Who had significant power and control over the other parts?
There are parallels in many places. You should take some of the lessons learned in other places and apply it in your given context. Let the ones that have universal merit begin to work in your situation. For example, the overarching role of the government to spur and grow business is a universal question to pose in any situation, problem, or geography. Should they pursue an enabler, backer, and supporter role rather than rig the system for the benefit of a few? How groups can become bold to take on higher-levels of vision and mission for themselves rather than merely serving the status quo, which God forbids is as old as 50 years ago? Can the institutor be both leading and following? I was talking with Alan Hall, the COO of the Plant Protein Alliance of Alberta. I find that there are many commonalities in other fields with what they were doing, in leading changes when the players are perceived as big, fat, and lazy and rocking the boat is high-risk.
And processes are as important as the end goals. Initially, any change proposal will be met by an overwhelming resistance, challenge, and suspicion. But once, a critical mass is achieved, the ball will be rolling on its own dynamics and momentum. There is no stopping what had been ignited. There are three reasons why change initiatives fail to get that support it deserve: first, because it has no appeal to the broader segment of its target population, second, it could not justify the change with benefits outweighing all the stresses and costs of surrendering the old, and third, the guardians of the system were not folded into the grand plan. Keep your processes tight and strategic at all times. Don't waste time on peripheral issues that do not have a bearing in the long term.
Patterns, parallels, and processes- keep that in mind in navigating your next best change efforts. There are no shortcuts to it except those that have been put in academic paper but rarely works in real chaos.