This article originally appeared on The Exec Ranks blog.
I’m not the first person to suggest that understanding why anything is done should be the driving force in an endeavor. Well known names such as Steve Jobs and Simon Sinek come to mind as two important figures in our society who have declared why as a prerequisite for success.
Let’s transfer that concept to the arena of a business startup, or new product introduction, or move to larger quarters, or any number of other human efforts. Before working to articulate a vision, or formulate strategy, or try to figure out how to go to market, or build a system of goals, or hire the first person, the initiator of the effort would do well to determine the real WHY.
Start with WHY represented in a statement of Mission that is understandable to other people. Not a wall poster mission that one can buy, and not a one liner that says “we will be the best” or “exceed customer expectations.” Rather, infuse the Mission with the values, philosophy and purpose behind the decision to undertake the challenge, whatever it is.
Why is it important to you, the owner of the initiative, to make this happen? Why are you willing to overcome obstacles and meet the inevitable challenges that will arise? Why will anyone else be glad that you created the state, thing or condition that will result from your effort? If it is a business, why would anyone pay for the deliverable? Why will you be better off and why will someone else be better off, (not necessarily financially, but in a human way) if they partake of your offering?
“Good” ideas are all around us in never implemented form. A good idea is not enough “why” to ensure success. All of the above “whys” and more will determine how success will come and how it will be recognized. The criteria by which success is measured will be determined by the degree of clarity present in the myriad answers to the questions of WHY. This may be the greatest challenge of all.
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Organizations are only as effective at delivering results as allowed by the people that constitute its dynamic existence. Organizations as entities, are nothing more than a container within which people of varying disciplines ply their trades. Organizations are only names on paper in a courthouse or law office. So, in order to achieve organizational transformation, you need only to focus on the people.
For an organization to deliver “better performance”, “enhanced results”, “more revenue and/or profits”, the people that are the organization must behave differently, perform differently, converse differently, expect differently. Without this change, the current state becomes the future state… everything remains the same.
The moment an organization leader becomes aware of his/her need for personal leadership development, that organization will begin evolving. The leader needs to evolve from her current state in order to lead her organization to the desired results. Only then will the organization begin its evolutionary journey. Even though the outcome may be complex, this journey will lead to a more effective organizational outcome.
Harvard’s John P. Kotter says that, “leadership is about coping with change; management is about coping with complexity.”
Evolutionary Transformation calls for a process that looks something like this:
1) Leader’s Personal acknowledgment that he/she must make some changes (prerequisite for success!). This leads to →
2) Vision building which then requires →
3) Strategy Formulation supported by →
4) Executable Goal Systems requiring →
5) Leader/Manager Development that produces →
6) Enhanced overall organizational effectiveness.
The outcomes of this process include organizational planning and leadership development at all levels which yield the desired results… evolving from what the organization is at the moment of the leader’s recognition of the organization’s current state, to the desired state at some predetermined time in the future.
See how an effective system of goals can transform an entire organization…