By J. William DeMarco
“Nothing stops an organization faster than people who believe that the way you worked yesterday is the best way to work tomorrow.” — Jon Madonna
The more my “maturity” hits me in the face–the more I see the world for all of its C3: Crisis, Complexity, and Confusion.
As leaders we must focus on protecting our folks from C3. This requires a focused and deliberate plan: 3Cs: Creative Thinking, Communication, and Collaboration. Carl Butler and his company Actualise–present a very nice framework which helped a good bit below.
Crisis: The speed of change has massively accelerated on a global scale. The strategic plates of society are shifting from world governance to the market place–the information and thought revolution are increasingly making the impossible….possible.
Complexity: Leaders operate in this complex, unpredictable and changing world. There doesn’t seem to be time to do anything properly anymore. We continually ask our folks to do more with less and many times–manage exponential growth and demand. Further, any leader worth a salt wants to take the organization to a new level of performance while staying on sustainable footing.
Confusion: Do you face any of the following in your organization:
- Strategic plans are out of date as fast as they are written (If you are lucky enough to have one at all)
- No time to ponder or implement new initiatives
- Leaders and staff are busier than ever, yet nothing seems to improve
- The potential of the unit is not being fully utilized
- There is a feeling of being overwhelmed by constant churn but the organization is not moving forward
- The unit faces difficulty in responding effectively to challenges and/or opportunities
- People are tired, stressed and disenfranchised
- The unit may feel more fragmented than unified.
It’s time to change the way we view and lead our organizations…much has been written on Leadership 2.0 but as we have left the industrial age and are living in the information age–time for our leadership model to catch up.
“You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”
— Mark Twain
What we should expect from our organizations:
- There is sustained organizational improvement
- Organizational flexibility, adaptability and resilience is growing
- There is a strong sense of purpose in the unit
- People want to come to work and contribute to the “mission”
Getting there is difficult, but not impossible and requires empowered leadership with vision.
- By grounding everything in the organization’s mission: (we are doing this because…)
- By looking for what is working, not what is wrong…and getting better
- By working WITH the culture (respecting it) and not trying to change it
- By finding the small things that are making the big differences and rewarding it
- By believing, absolutely, in the capability of the unit’s people
- By doings things differently
- By empowering individuals in deed and act
- By trusting those below and those above
If we continue to follow conventional wisdom in leadership, our organizations will never achieve the outcomes we expect. Our management theories are grounded in a science that was established 300 years ago–the industrial age. We lead our units as though they were machines. We apply tools to them, hammer out problems and re-engineer them on a somewhat constant cycle. In the effort to drive efficiency and standardization, we are crushing innovation and flexibility at a time when they are desperately needed.
We have just about wrung out all the benefits of conventional approaches to leadership and it is time to expand the models. We need to update our leadership paradigm and open our eyes to what is really going on in our organizations, not what we have been conditioned to expect.
“Dissatisfaction and discouragement are not caused by the absence of things but the absence of vision.”
SOLUTIONS: Accentuate the 3Cs ( Communication, Collaboration, and Creative Thinking) in your organization, it is the only way to counter Crisis, Complexity and Confusion. Empowering individuals with the 3C vision and following up with tools and incentives is amazingly effective.
Communication: Communication is the key to organizational health and success and without it… the Collaboration and Creative Thinking will never happen. Communication:
- Must be clear, consistent and courteous (3 more Cs from John Maxwell)
- Articulate thoughts and ideas effectively using oral, written and nonverbal communication skills in a variety of forms and contexts (never underestimate the power of putting something in writing)
- Listen effectively to decipher meaning, including knowledge, values, attitudes and intentions
- Use communication for a range of purposes (e.g. to inform, instruct, motivate and persuade)
- Communicate effectively in diverse environments
Collaboration: Once an organization can effectively communicate-collaboration is possible. Collaboration can:
- Demonstrate ability to work effectively and respectfully with diverse teams
- Utilize multiple media and technologies, and know how to judge effectiveness as well as assess their impact
- Exercise flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making necessary compromises to accomplish a common goal
- Assume shared responsibility for collaborative work, and value the individual contributions made by each team member
Creative Thinking: An individual can be creative, but an organization will not be truly creative until it can communicate and collaborate. Creative thinking can:
- Create new and worthwhile ideas (both incremental and radical concepts)
- Elaborate, refine, analyze and evaluate ideas in order to improve and maximize creative efforts
- Be open and responsive to new and truly diverse perspectives from a myriad of sources and incorporate group input and feedback into the work
- Encourage originality and inventiveness in work, while understanding the real world limits to adopting new ideas
- View failure as an opportunity to learn–it’s only a data point
- Understand that creativity and innovation are long-term, cyclical processes of small successes and frequent mistakes
- Solve different kinds of non-familiar problems in both conventional and innovative ways
Finally in continuing my very strange love affair with the letter “C” (too much Sesame Street and Cookie Monster) we must fight C3 (crisis, complexity, and confusion) with the 3Cs (Creative Thinking, Communication [clear, consistent, courteous], and Collaboration and further…as leaders we can not forget character, courage, and commitment…so there we have the 12Cs.
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein
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