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RUNNING INTO THE EDGE OF CHAOS
When everything is urgent, nothing is urgent.
When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.
Change efforts go by the wayside if there's not enough urgency within the organization
to ensure that it will be given an undivided attention and resources it needs. Moving the strategic priorities into implementation requires consistent and constant pressure from management that understands strategic management.
85% of strategic plans do not get implemented. When the rubber hits the road, the tendency is to focus on the day-t0-day mundane issues, relegating the higher objectives into the backburner. This stop-and-go scenario will delay your progress and unconsciously reward inventing obstacles.
Managers and leaders- stop treating all crisis as equal. You should know how to treat priorities as real priorities, or your employees will not believe another memo with an urgent stamp.
It's not what they hear, it's what they see in action that gets believed.
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THE IMPERATIVES OF THE FUTURE
In strategy, the conventional wisdom is to start from your current state/situation/position.
This is faulty and utterly difficult. Our status quo thinking and action propels us to look at what's in our current view. We rarely, in matters of management, look beyond, proactively because as Drucker said, we are constantly bogged down by "the tyranny of the mundane."
The leaders' and managers' job is not to solve problems but to look for opportunities. The future while fraught with uncertainty and high level of contradictions also provide a giant opportunity for innovation and applied creativity. Where to look is a good starting question.
We always look at the leading brands and organizations that are killing it even in the worst of times. But, their trajectories and strengths are different. They also have 'failure money' to experiment without risking their mortgages and future pension.
You have to start with your good practice. You have to start with backward thinking and then create the strategies linking the present situation to your desired states. Some call it the zero moment, when the future states are achieved in the present. Before you even reach this stage, you would be already on to your next-level challenge for your organization.
How much of your time these days is devoted to focusing on future prospects and opportunities, and how much time minding the daily business of keeping the lights on?
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CHANGE RESISTORS ARE WELCOME
The majority of people in organizations will just gladly go along any changes communicated as a positive development in the right direction.
But for some, change is not an easy sell, and more processes need to happen to ensure buy-in for all important stakeholders. As an on-purpose leader, you can take these small steps:
1. Overcommunicate the positive gains and the immediate steps.
The rest of the time, it's the middle phase that's ambiguous but not necessary to be bogged down by it. Keep the focus on the high-level objectives and what they can do right away. Immediate steps take their eyes off worries and fears, and lead them to practical things they can work on.
2. Be clear about the challenges and pains that will be faced
Do not promise the moon and the stars. What is mostly likely to happen in the beginning is that there would be massive amounts of adjustments to be made and then, the 'settling' period which would be the 'in-between' moments for most people. Tell them all the pains that will have to be endured and don't gloss over critical issues for each departments to do.
3. Resist going back and staying in one place in the change continuum
Do not go back romanticizing the past ways or methods of doing things. Resist this water-cooler talks in your office and in your boardroom. The legroom of moving initially is already an achievement in itself. You have come along in this continuum.
But don't rest your laurels in one place. You have to move to the next level-whether is developing and strengthening your talent, building a pipeline of future clients and customers, building a knowledge management system, among others. It could also mean preparing your Board Trustees and executives for a robust leadership role throughout these change period.
4. Celebrate with your key team and learn ways to accelerate
Gravity pulls us down. As much as we'd like to think that all the resisting dragons are slayed. Inertia and entropy, like gravity can bring organizations out of their momentum and elide their impact. Learn ways to accelerate and defy the need to do a lot of consultations which would not add value or wait for the next greenlight from higher-ups.
Be the best believer of this transformation in your organization. When the chips are down, remember, this is a phase, not the end. Resistors are not enemies to be thrown out of the bus. You should appreciate the value they provide and how much worth the journey it is to keep them alongside with you throughout the process.
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BLESSINGS IN MASK
Everyday, people are moving on with their lives. They are getting married, having babies, building companies, hiring people, and trying to make a living.
If there's one consolation we can derive from another extended lockdown- we don't have to meet people, we don't want to meet.
We don't want to waste our time in meetings that go nowhere.
We don't have to fall in line in stores when we know we can buy online.
We don't have to drive or ride a plane to get to seminars, workshops, conferences.
But we want to, we will make a way for things to happen.
If you're not moving on, you are resisting the flow of action.
Contradictions rule our time. Everything is in flux, including yourself.
Go with flow and welcome uncertainty as a given.
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CONNECT YOUR TRACKS
Everyday my daughter and I would walk outside in the snowy yard and do all kinds of fun games.
She likes to walk and create new tracks which she would then connect together.
We need to connect our actions with what's going on with the world, the natural environment, and people systems.
We need to connect what we're thinking with our customers and adjust service offerings with their needs.
We need to connect with other people and actors in our space not because we need them, but we can help and find synergy.
We need to build linkages with other sectors and industries which normally do not work together or seem to be opposite or in direct competition. These are areas to be mined for opportunities to provide a win-win solution.
We need to connect as leaders and managers to our self-awareness and tap into the potential for creative expression inside and outside of our work.
There are many reasons to feel connected and be connected with. If you're in isolation, look into the mirror.
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GREENLIGHT YOUR MOVES
In the last 6 months, I learned that there's no way that the epidemic or the conservative responses to the epidemic could help any forward-looking organizations get back on its track or even pursue innovation, if it's just looking at what everyone's doing.
There's no need to wait for someone or something to happen to greenlight what you want to accomplish in the next 6 months.
Either, this pandemic will pass like other flus in a natural way with the vaccine as a first-rate preventative tool or not. It's a given.
If you have the resolve to change the road you're walking on, change.
If you want to continue but adjust, adjust well.
Act on them now and let the chips fall off.
Better yet, build your own roads, streets, or traffic lights.
Don't look behind your shoulder because there's no one there, except your shadow.
The most important of all: Take care of yourself and be kind to others.
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The talk about sustainability has often been centered around the triple-bottom lines: economic, environmental, and social gains.
For once, let's veer away from this construct to look at what we are doing in training, building up, and strengthening the future of the on-purpose sectors we currently inhabit.
We need to have more people working on the pipeline--- ensuring that a new provocative, insightful, and well-intuited individuals get to the next level of leadership. We have the tools in our disposal to make it happen. With the trifecta of design, data, and technology, the potentials are vast and almost limitless. We have sent humans on the moon. We can do better now than in the last 50 years.
We need our retirees to act as mentors and guides to show us what we could be working on, lessons learned, and things we can avoid if we are paying more attention to what matters most.
We need more people connecting, bridging, and sense-making our present, immediate future, and long-term futures. This means that there's enough analytics, curation, and regurgitation by everyone for everyone. Yet, we remain lost and sometimes confused, as to where these advances are leading us to and how we can invest in critical infrastructures to bring us to our desired destination.
For me, sustainable futures is all about building the next generation which is you and me and everyone that is concerned about our societies, our planet, and our economies. We can't rest on our leaders, present and future to tell us what to do and lead us boldly. Strong followership will be growing, enabling leaders to take on a symbolic and muted roles instead.
We are the strong followers
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SEE WHAT HAPPENS
In 2002, I got a rejection from a fellowship program which would have enabled me to have an international education.
Nevertheless, the same organization accepted me into their fellowship program in 2015 besting 500 other applicants vying for the prestigious placement.
In 2010, I got a rejection from a job application, noting that I was the second best but they had to choose a more qualified, Canadian-born applicant.
In less than three months, the Director got back to me and inquired if I found the job already and would like to offer a better position.
In 2015, I got an offer for a consultancy with a firm knowing that I have both two senior associates /contacts invoking my name into the project. In less than a month, I got the contract. Six months, I made the connections not knowing where these may lead.
In 2019, I got another offer after an exploratory conversation with the head officer of an organization.
In 2020, I got two offers of publishing contract after three months of selling the book idea.
You cannot second guess your next move as an impact leader. You have a set of information in your hand that you can use to move forward with confidence. Use your best judgement knowing that things may come around, or may not.
The test for this is: were you all in or half-heartedly into the game?
This year, be all in and see what happens. Uncertainty is the mother of ingenuity.
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Politicians travelling during the holidays set very bad examples. If they can't heed the directive, then how are we, ordinary mortals can believe these leaders every time they open their mouths and make another directive.
If your organization says something else, but no one believes it, you are inviting a cognitive dissonance. What you do is far more effective than what is said in the memos or in talk in the cafeteria halls and weekly meetings.
I was once in a meeting where the supervisor once said, "Be thankful that you have a job." This was after hearing what we think about the current state of uncertainty gripping the whole organization in terms of budget cuts, staff lay-offs, and internal conflicts.
It's like the blind leading the blind. You can't get any assurance or clarity from someone who doesn't and couldn't lead.
Well, she wasn't able to stay for another term.