There is a lot of advice one gets that seems to be so true, so powerful, so undebatable, so smart and at the same time sooooo annoying. Things like:
- Turn obstacles into success challenges
- Focus on the one thing which is the most important to you
- Set goals and evaluate your actions against them
- Put your stuff in order
- Get everyone on board
- Be a leader not a manager
- Think out of the box
They are annoying as they lack one key element – HOW? Yes, I understand that if my workplace is well organized I can be more productive but every time I organize it, five minutes later it looks the same mess again. Yes, I understand the beauty of the idea of turning obstacles into success challenges, but what does it practically mean ?
How often have you heard someone giving you such an advice? Set in a lecture and heard something that seemed to be amazingly smart and valuable? And nevertheless, you did nothing with this valuable insight? Or failed trying to do something about it?
The sad truth is, that thinking our of the box, actually requires thinking inside the box. It requires structure. There are some people that have the ability to think out of the box without a structure, but most of us can’t. Doing the “right” thing as suggested in all of this great advice, requires a structure that we can follow, easily, repeatedly and consistently. Innovation requires boring process and structure.
As John D. Rockefeller said – “The secret to success is doing the common things, uncommonly well” . Without a systematic structure in place, it is highly unlikely (although not impossible) that breakthroughs can be realized.
Much of the amazing advice we get, is about change. Doing things differently than we currently do them. As smart and true as they seem to be, do not allow their charm to lead you astray. Not anything that can be changed, should be changed, even if it has a positive effect. Change requires structure.
We tend to get excited about an idea because it seems to be smart, exciting, relevant, done by others, raised by people we appreciate etc. Is that a good enough reason?
When considering change, it has to have a good reason for us. We should not change because others have changed, we should not change because this change seems to be exciting, we should not change because someone has pointed out the option to us. We should change because it makes us better.
To start with, do you know what better means for you? Can you verbalize clearly to yourself what is the desired state you will reach when you are better? If not, this would be a good starting point. The first step in the, not so sexy, structured approach to change.
And so that I do not fall in the same trap I am warning against, what you need to do is to write a concise sentence that describes the desired state as if it is already achieved, something like; “I am recognized as a thought leader in the area of …” , If this is a personal thing, or; “Our company delivers double figure annual growth coupled with double figure profitability and is recognized by its stakeholders as most trusted investment”
Now, we are ready to start our change journey, in a structured way that will nevertheless deliver breakthrough effects.