October 23, 2017

The subtlety is the point

Four business people in a discussionMany situations seem to require being focused and broad at the same time; being specialist as well as generalist.

That appears to be a contradiction, a dichotomy—one that needs very careful handling if a group of people is involved, and a considerable challenge to manage successfully.

If we suggest focusing an organisation, for example, in one or more particular areas, the people involved in the non-preferred areas are likely to resist because they feel threatened. But we possibly didn’t intend any real downside for them. It’s more that we hope to grow certain emerging strengths.

Alternatively, if we aim to keep everyone happy, we may fail to develop the concentration of effort necessary to achieve significant breakthroughs.

Chances are what we really require is a relative emphasis on certain areas that may yield superior returns on effort, not a major upheaval.

Our biggest challenge, in fact, may be to convey the subtlety of what we intend so that we don’t “frighten the horses” whose support we need. Managing the situation with the necessary sensitivity and spreading that ethos throughout the organisation could be harder than—and just as vital as—the actual choice of areas of focus.

In other words…

The subtlety is the point.

New Year every month?

Calendar dates from monday to sundayHow often do you review your goals (assuming you set some in the first place, of course)?

Obviously, it’s traditional to set personal goals at the turn of the year and it’s a good idea. It’s a good time to do it too, because we need a bit of downtime to reflect on what our direction should be. I have benefited over the years from doing this reasonably diligently, not least because it’s made me re-assess my priorities and what I am aiming for. The actual outcome has definitely been different from what it would have been had I not taken the time to think over what I could achieve in the 12 months to come. (I also think about three years ahead, to make sure I am radical enough.)

Because of the fresh direction that comes out of the process, last year, I decided to attempt to take stock and re-assess my yearly aim and objectives every month-end. Of course, I didn’t manage every month, but I did manage about six of the month-ends. That definitely contributed to a successful year. Each time, there was experience and learning to reflect on and I made some adjustments to my aim for the year—upwards, generally—because I could see more clearly. That redirection definitely wouldn’t have happened without making time for the review. (I’m not saying it’s a comfortable kind of thinking, by the way. It’s work, no doubt about that.)

I suggest you try this, especially if you are entirely responsible for your own direction. At the end of the year, you’ll be glad you did.

I know this is kind of serious, but it matters.

So…

New Year every month?

Tip: Schedule your monthly review in your diary—perhaps for the weekend nearest the beginning of the month.

And, of course…

Best wishes for 2017.

Fear

Three people in a meetingFear is an inhibitor, for the most part—an inhibitor of evolution and innovation. Sure, sometimes a bit of a fright helps us get moving, but if we’re too scared to take risks, we can’t develop.

So…

If fear is part of the climate you create, you might get higher productivity but you won’t get innovation. You’ll need to make those calls about direction and strategy yourself—quite a responsibility really.

Might be better to create a climate of trust, and, yes, high expectations, but not pervasive insecurity, not unless you want to shoulder the whole leadership burden yourself.

The more fear you create, the more you’re in sole charge (for a time), and the more you’re alone.

Incoherence and bullying

Signposts pointing in all different directionsStrategic coherence: Some organizations have it, others not so much. In those that do, it’s easier to get things done across functions, across the ubiquitous silos, because everyone’s already pointing in something like the same direction.

Where there’s incoherence—different parts being pointed in different directions—it’s much harder to lead across functions when the job requires it. Managers run out of the skills and authority they need to get what they need done, done, and resort to bullying behavior.

Some organizations leave their senior people to “sort it out amongst themselves.” In a competitive culture, that rarely happens and so things get incoherent down the line.

Does that lead to bullying?

What do you think?

Watch the incoherence is the takeaway, I reckon.