Changing The Organization’s Reality

by Jay Deragon on 09/03/2012

A smart system can work with a little stupidity, but a stupid system can’t work with even a lot of smarts.

The biggest obstacle to breaking away from 20th century management practices lies in the very nature of organizations and the systems they build and embrace. Most organizations have become muddled because their purpose it’s clear, their systems aren’t connected and their culture is driven by the power of the few rather than the beliefs of the many.

Most organizations set their sights on innovative growth initiatives while at the same time continually shooting themselves in the foot.  Invariably, they all gravitate at some point toward the same growth-stifling behaviors and ingrained thinking. To paraphrase cartoon strip character Pogo, “We have met the enemy and it is us.”

Change The Reality

Breaking old mental cycles and subsequent behavioral patterns  starts with the deliberate actions of a dedicated growth leader. Real growth occurs only when true leaders actually lead, clearing obstacles, illuminating weaknesses, championing changes, and seizing opportunities. If leaders  want their organizations to grow, it is incumbent upon them to smash the obstacles to growth. If you want to be as a true leader, start behaving like a cop on the stupidity beat. It is stupid thinking from the neck up that destroys the body from the neck down.

To change an organizations reality leaders have to come face to face with some hard truths. These truths include:

  1. You can’t afford to have “friends” in management if your “friends” are the biggest obstacle to change
  2. Simply believing things will get better is wishful thinking. Wishful thinking doesn’t create needed change, action does.
  3. Actions guided by past understandings is foolishness. Actions guided by new knowledge creates new understandings that lead to wisdom.
  4. Changing how management thinks and behaves may require a change in management.
  5. People respect those that recognize the reality of the way things are and the guts to change things the way they ought to be. People want to be led by knowledge rather than follow stupidity.

When leaders remove self-imposed organizational barriers to change they seize the moment to create new realities. Unless the barriers to change are removed there is no ground for new realities to grow. Change requires courage. Courage is required from leaders and followers who aren’t afraid to admit that the current reality isn’t working and it is time to create a new reality.  The time is now! 

{ 1 comment }

Dick Davies September 5, 2012 at 5:03 pm

The most innovative organization I ever had was McCaw/Cell One. A scrappy bunch took on and defeated the entrenched telcos. We had realities that no one else (including us) could imagine. And we spent a ridiculous amount to time learning new thinking and new skills…constantly. Then a couple of weeks later we were using that knowledge. Happened too many times.
Today there’s an active alumni group on LinkedIn, wishing Craig would start another crusade.
Stewart Emery says, “Transformation is possible, just don’t underestimate the cost.”

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