There is a great deal written about how to create success, both for individuals, teams and organisations, but some of our experience suggests that success will come along quite easily if we can just avoid creating the circumstances for failure.
In the world of elite professional sport athletes and teams look for every opportunity to improve physical and psychological performance. Not just for the athletes themselves but for management and operations support as well. Top Formula One teams and Pro Cycling teams expect back office staff and management to pay attention to: Sleep rest and recovery, nutrition, hydration, exercise and mindfulness. These teams provide psychological and physiological coaching and training to team members so that everyone can be at their most effective most of the time.
Gremlins are the little voices that sabotage your efforts to succeed. They tell you that you’re not good enough, you’ll never succeed, basically, they keep you on the safe path. Today we are focusing specifically on how your Gremlins accompany you through your day.
If you’ve seen the movie “A Beautiful Mind” about John Nash, he struggled with paranoid schizophrenia. As he started to learn to manage the disease, his gremlins no longer controlled him, but they walked alongside him about 50 feet away.
One of my enduring nightmarish memories of corporate life in the late 20th century and early noughties was centred on the slavish adherence to the annual appraisal. It was never that I didn’t enjoy the chance to converse with bosses or my team, it was just that the whole pantomime that surrounded the conversation was so staged, inauthentic and ultimately rigged that it always ruined any goodwill I wanted to create and nurture.
System integration. Organisational restructures. Business mergers. These are things that happen every single day, in organisations all over the world. You’ve probably been the recipient in at least two of them.
A staggering statistic, however, is that upwards of 70% of these changes in business do not go as well as the vision behind them – they either fail, run drastically over budget or do not deliver the anticipated benefits. 70%.
In 2001 the largest five companies in the world by market capitalisation were GE, Microsoft, Exxon, Citi and Walmart. By 2011 they were Exxon, Apple, Petro China, Shell and ICBC (Bank of China). By 2016 they were Apple, Alphabet (Google), Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook.
What distinguishes GE, Exxon, Citi, Walmart, Petro China, ICBC and Shell from Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook is that the former could all be classed as conventional and the latter can all be classed as post-conventional.
This organisation is a stock-market quoted firm owned by shareholders rather than being a family-owned business. The dilemma faced by the C-Suite was whether decisions should be made to benefit themselves, benefit the shareholders or benefit the long-term sustainability of the enterprise, which would have positively affected a much wider range of stakeholders.
Over the last few years you can’t have failed to notice a number of factors coming together in a potent mix, creating the opportunity for “digital transformation”:
- availability of data,
- the power and availability of technology,
- mobile and cloud computing,
- peoples’ raised service expectations,
- a shift to more agile ways of working.
I’ve observed that this disruption is also driving an absolute requirement for a change in the way leaders lead. Some approaches are simply no longer an option.
You start with end in mind and work backwards to establish the steps that you need to complete that will take you from A to B. It’s something that most of us will have done at some point in our lives. If you want to move house, refit a bathroom or board a plane, you have to work out what you need to do and then the steps required to do it. This is a great example of tactical planning and we do it every day.
But do we apply the same process to our strategic goals?
Over the last few weeks I have been finessing a lot of presentations; one for a team building session I hosted in London, another for the upcoming BCT Conference in March and various other sessions for internal training. During this process, I have also been reading the excellent book ‘TED Talks’ by Chris Anderson, the current head of the TED organisation. It’s a brilliant read for anybody with an interest in public speaking and has provided me with many insights and creative ideas for revising some of my slide decks and presentations.