Many organizations confuse success indicators and health indicators; they’re not the same thing. Yes, the differences can be subtle, but a higher level of success comes to those who have figured it out. For example, in the non-profit world, financial measures are often an important indicator of the health of the organization but not usually an indicator of its impact.
We need a better word. When we use the word “change” flags usually go up, resistance likely goes up, muttering often goes up and productivity frequently goes down. The word “change” scares people. It means loss. It means giving something up. It means abandoning what got us here and often it means disloyalty to the person who got me here.
A leader I know says to his team members, “If you agree with everything I say, I don’t need you.” Yes. The sharpest organizations talk passionately about their work, disagree regularly with their leaders and each other, argue intensely about possibilities, and then make great decisions knowing they’ve considered all angles. All the while, when it works well, those conversations stay focussed on ideas, not on each other.
A leader told me recently that one of the things holding her organization back was civility. Yes, her people are so concerned with being nice to each other that they won’t acknowledge underperformance or suggest obvious improvements if someone might be singled out. Bluntly, being nice has trumped being effective.
The poet David Whyte says:
“anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.”
Maybe he’s too bold, maybe not. One purpose of poetry is to agitate the mind, to create a healthy restlessness. Perhaps there’s a leadership message for us in his words.
Future Shop closed a number of stores in Canada this week (including my favourite location which was only open for 17 months!). Their business reason – showrooming. What’s that? People come to their store, talk with a salesperson, figure out which product they want (especially big-ticket items), then leave the store and make the purchase online at a discount. Makes sense; doesn’t it? Business is changing in ways that we aren’t imagining. We must open our eyes or else.