Mankind, by nature, strives to be better, faster, smarter, richer, more productive and so on. The foundations of know-how to support this natural tendency are mostly available, and more is being added with time. When observing the world of technology it is evident that this know-how is well utilized and new and exciting breakthroughs are being introduced, almost daily. When observing social systems (companies, families, cities, countries, non-for-profit organizations) it much less evident that this know-how even exists, let alone delivering breakthroughs. It seems that the rate of improvement we achieve socially is by far slower than can be expected, considering the existing know-how.
One evident fact is the, almost inconceivable gap between what we say and what we do, in these regards. We talk about demand drive supply chains, but keep basing them on unreliable forecasts, we talk about improving flow but keep flooding production floors for higher inefficiencies, we talk about value propositions but keep offering conflicting business models, we talk about long-term relationships with suppliers but keep changing to new ones as soon as they offer a tiny price discount, we keep talking about investing in developing our human resources but keep cutting them at the sight of business risk, we keep talking about long term sustainability but keep judging everything by the quarterly results.
We know what needs to be done, but we choose to keep doing what we always did, and we hope technological breakthroughs will generate the desired results. In spite of the immense technological breakthroughs, there is little evidence that they also lead to breakthroughs of the social system performances.
Some, very few, are able to lead their systems differently. To convert the know-how to breakthrough practice. What do they have, that so many of us lack? Clearly it is not the know-how, this is available for all.
It is my belief, that what those leaders have are two characteristics that are the key enablers for leading a social system to breakthrough performance; they do not lead by ego and they are great communicators.
It seems that we fail to bridge the gaps between know-how and practice because we are afraid they will make us look not so smart (we always did something in a given way, how would we look doing it totally the other way?) and/or because we fail to communicate it effectively, in an inspiring way to others.
If we want to lead a social system to performance breakthrough, we already have the majority of the know-how required. What we need is to leave our ego aside and work on our communication. Ego-free leader, that has worked to create for himself clear vision and path (as without clarity for oneself, it is impossible to bring clarity to others) will lead his system to breakthrough performances. Our biggest challenge is —- us!