February 24, 2018

What’s the difference between an answer and an essential condition for success?

Group discussing plansThe contributors round the table are, in turns, articulate and persuasive in their advocacy of their particular way of looking at the problem and their approach to its solution. After all, their understanding really has helped them solve significant problems in the past.

Don’t we all do this?

We push the method we think is needed. There’s nothing bad about that.

But then we often go wrong….

We act as if our method is the answer, when it’s much more likely to be just one of many essential conditions for success. Our method is part of the answer, sure, but not all of the answer. We need more pieces, and the chances are they’re going to come from other people. We need to gather all the component parts of the solution. And we need to be open to them in the first place.

Success typically takes more steps than we expect. We need to get a whole chain of things right. If some are missing, success will elude us.

Your answer is likely essential, but probably not enough on its own. Be open to receiving the other pieces you need.

How do you spot what’s missing from the solution as a whole?

How do you react to others’ successes?

People clappingYou celebrate them, of course.

If you’re anything like me though, that’s sometimes after a twinge of envy—a brief moment of wishing for a similar success.

That’s not the way of personal mastery, of course. There, others’ success is an enabler, a contribution to the greater good, and no threat at all to our self-esteem.

If you’re working on a change goal, here’s a useful test of your motives and purpose…

Were the goal to be achieved without you, would you welcome that, or is it more important to be contributing to the success?

Which matters more to you, working on change, or seeing the change happen?

Worth a moment’s reflection.

How do you benefit from others’ success?

There ain’t no magic bullets

Scottish Parliament ChamberGreat discussion with the team from Unipart led by John Neill, Group Chief Executive of the Unipart Group of Companies at the Business in the Parliament conference in Edinburgh (12 November 2010). John talked about the benefits of a largely employee-owned businesses making learning and development choices for the medium to long term, rather than to meet the short term pressures of the City.

The success of the “Unipart Way” is based on engaging people and taking them on learning journey.  Only 15% of our people are engaged, on average. Meanwhile we have a large productivity “gap” in both the private and public sectors, which, if closed even partly, would completely compensate for the forthcoming reductions in public spending.

Do we need a crisis to get change started? Not necessarily, according to John. Most important thing is to set out a compelling vision of how things can be. To influence others not yet on the journey, show them a working model. That overcomes the difficulty of understanding thing we are being told rather than shown.

Success take practice. An orchestra depends on the 10,000+ hours of work of the individual musicians (see Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers) to play Beethoven’s Ninth (or any other great work). So it is with other organisations. High performance needs a commitment to learning and effort applied to practice.

There ain’t no magic bullets.