Oddly and evenly sadly, this is not new. The current events in America could be from the 1960’s; could be Rodney King in the 1990’s; could be from any decade in our 400-year history since Jamestown 1619.
Happenings in the world that may not completely or immediately change your strategy – but urges you to perceive matters in a different light, speak up, and cry foul – typically cause a rash of activity: some productive and some not.
With any challenge, new or not, we need to ask ourselves, “What are we going to do about it? What is our plan? How do we organize around our plan? How committed are we to executing around our plan?”
I do not have all of the answers. I do believe the answers stand in examining your strategy to determine if it is still appropriate. It may also involve developing a new plan with different actions, a new paradigm of sorts (no post from a consultant would be complete without the use of the word paradigm).
So, what is this new paradigm I am proposing? What if we stopped ignoring and hiding from the past? Bad stuff has happened and continues to happen. Own it, learn from it, and change the future. Isn’t that what business leaders do when performance is down? Look at the contributing factors, learn from them, and look to implement sustainable change.
The negatives of our past do not define us as much as our response. Ask the tough question, “Are our strategies and activities truly aligned to get us where we want to go?”
Stop activities that are a “performance” of change. Stop simply renaming (one less Stonewall Jackson replaced by one more Booker T. Washington monument is not going to fix this problem), tearing down statues, removing flags, and doubling-down on agencies to investigate “alleged wrongdoing” are not going to fix this problem. Those actions, while well intended, are simply “lipstick on a pig.” Statues do not physically hurt people, even if they are reminiscent of tragedies and commemorate questionable parts of our history. Flags do not profile people and pull them over. Statues do not fire people, arrest people, kill people, etc.
Speaking just for myself, these activities alone do not give me hope! The corporate parallel to this is the rush to new initiatives, new products, and new people without any reflection as to how the activities align with the big picture – the strategy.
Now, to be clear, I am all for removing these symbols if their removal is in concert with real significant changes. Otherwise, these actions are simply gestures; conciliatory acts designed to look like change. Regulatory agencies and rules to root out wrongdoing are not nearly as helpful as strategies, tactics, and enlightenment to help avoid and prevent the wrongdoing. If we are not able to acknowledge and accept our history, we cannot learn how to move forward.
Let us not forget that Robert E. Lee was Lincoln’s first choice to lead the Union forces. Ulysses S. Grant was 3rd or 4th, but he had the courage to plan and execute his way through the Civil War and into history as a success. The lines we try to draw have never been bright or distinct- not then, not now.
The steps forward are not seated in perfection, but in what the founding fathers set out for:
a more perfect union to establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our prosperity
I had a boss who used to say, “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water,” meaning do not indiscriminately discard everything because one part is not right. As a society, we keep throwing the baby out too. We are demanding perfection before we are willing to explore solutions. We are not willing to concede the little stuff for the greater good, the strategy. I do not know any walk of life where that approach works.
More perfect. Striving for perfection, but knowing it may not be attainable.
Find a strategy that puts you on a path towards success. Neither the strategy nor the path must be perfect at the outset, just pointed in the right direction. Align all your activities to the strategy, the desired outcome. Do not protest just for the sake of protesting. Stop and ask what the desired outcome is. Do not implement diversity initiatives just because they are in vogue right now. What are the initiatives intended to accomplish?
Align all activities with a bigger mission/vision or otherwise nothing meaningful gets accomplished and we repeat the failures of the past. In our country, the foundation is laid out in the preamble to the constitution. In your company, the foundation must be your strategic plan.
I am no activist. I am not leading a movement or a revolution. I am a leadership consultant, executive coach, and corporate trainer who focuses on helping organizations and individuals achieve their goals through a renewed focus on the basic principles of management-leadership; planning, organizing, and commitment. Said differently, helping organizations and individuals achieve success by aligning all of their activities to a strategy – what are your mission, vision, values, and goals. What resources can you bring to bear in pursuing your mission, and what processes, procedures, and controls do you have in place to stay committed?