Posts Tagged ‘Focus’

“Zip It”: Why Naming Your Initiative Is The First Step Toward Failure

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

zip-it

In a previous column, A Mug Full of Change, I asked the question, “Why do we have so many change mugs?” With each new initiative comes a new mug — and rather than helping to make change, they often end up merely collecting change. I reasoned that we have so many mugs because we have so many flavor-of-the-month initiatives. I shared seven areas our organizations will always be working to improve. It is the job of the leader to provide the context for new initiatives — to show employees that we are not jumping on another fad, but rather continuing our journey to get better every day. We may introduce new methods or approaches to doing the seven things — a new strategic planning model or different process improvement techniques, for example — but we will never not be doing the seven things.

 

In this column, I’d like to address the other reason we have so many mugs: the almost universal desire to name our change initiatives. Look around your cubicle at all the logo-adorned mugs, pens, paperweights and mousepads. See what I mean?

What could possibly be wrong with naming your change initiative? As someone with a marketing degree who had named several initiatives and held big kickoff events, I had assumed that was step one in creating change: Create a brand, a catchy name that people would remember. (more…)

Focus: Getting Things Done Often Means Knowing What Not to Do

Friday, May 1st, 2009

focusIn my last column I talked about guerrilla warfare — how to create change when you are not in charge. This month I want to flip it around. What do you do when you are in charge? You have a vision — there is so much you want to get done. How can you get everyone on board? How do you get all these people to move from here to there? How do you get it all done? It’s simple — you don’t. So much is possible when you realize you can’t do it all.

 

One of my favorite quotes, usually attributed to the Archbishop Oscar Romero, is: “We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.”

Put another way, it’s not important that we do everything well but that we do the really important things really well. What are those vital few things that, if done extremely well, will fundamentally transform your culture?

Buckminster Fuller, the late inventor/futurist/leadership sage, introduced the trimtab as a metaphor for creating change (so much so that “Call me Trimtab” is on his tombstone).

“A trimtab is a nautical device that acts as a small rudder used to turn the larger rudder of giant ships, offering tremendous leverage in terms of steering and changing the direction of the ship. Fuller, drawing upon his naval experience, saw the trimtab as a powerful metaphor for effective individual leadership: small and strategically placed interventions can cause large-scale and profound change.” (Leadership By Design: How One Individual Can Change the World. The Leadership Principles of Buckminster Fuller. Medard Gabel and Jim Walker, 2006).

The metaphor works as follows. Imagine your organization/department/bureau/section is a ship. You are the captain. As the captain, you realize that the ship is going the wrong direction. How do you get a large ship with a lot of momentum to stop, turn on a dime and (more…)