In your effort to keep your organization fresh and attractive, don’t forget what brought you success in the first place. Don’t lose sight of your core purpose.
Organizations are created to provide a solution to a need. When someone develops a solution to a problem, organizations are born. That initial vision is a great place to start and it’s a great plumb line to measure against as you grow.
The extreme pendulum swings
My colleague, Becky Scheeler, shared the extremes of the pendulum that you see in businesses today. It’s the idea that radical change is necessary to shake things up to grow and become more successful. This is such a common practice that I feel it’s worth a second look. Call it Groupthink or the Bandwagon effect, but regardless, it’s unhealthy and leads to unfortunate outcomes.
There are numerous examples of companies that find themselves in trouble because they chased too hard after a new idea. New ideas are good, but not at the sake of throwing out the ideas that brought the current success.
Radical Change that Doesn’t Benefit
Take a look at some of these trends and see if you can identify with these extremes. Are you doing the same thing? Are you forgetting balance and embracing radical practices?
- International outsourcing only. Everything possible is outsourced to a seemingly cheaper country. In the end, many businesses have discovered that the logistic costs created a whole new set of issues.
- Human Resources is solely responsible for talent. By compartmentalizing everything related to talent it appeared to be keeping it nice and organized. The reality is that the whole organization is responsible for the attraction and retention of talent. It’s not a function; it’s a philosophy.
- Hiring a board of young professionals. For an older leadership team it seems like a great idea to bring in some fresh, young professionals to balance the generational differences. Sometimes such a board is not realistic or helpful. Many younger people do not have the resources, funds and network needed to succeed today. At the same time, we recognize that a young perspective is extremely beneficial. Be inclusive and strive to compose a perfectly balanced board.
- Promotions that lead only to international opportunities. The more you rise in management, the more responsibility you acquire. Organizations took this to mean shipping people to international locations to run global operations. They run into significant issues when those talented managers want to return to The States and no roles are available for such high-level people.
- All funding and energy is spent on emerging markets. It’s true that innovating is a critical piece to getting ahead and staying ahead. However, businesses that focused wholly on acquiring new markets and growing horizontally lose sight of their core competencies.
History and present day are filled with more examples of organizations and political administrations that went hard after one idea and it lead to failure. Some degree of failure is normal if you are trying new things, but when you lose all sense of balance, you’re almost certain to fail.
Safeguards for avoiding extremes
Each of the examples above include an element of good business sense. The downfall comes when all else is dismissed to chase that one idea. Balance is key. How can you find that balance?
How to avoid going off course
- Review your mission and stay true to it
- Give careful thought to criticism
Your organization has a mission for a reason. It’s what defines who you are and what you do. It outlines the organization’s purpose. This statement may change over time, but the core of who you are should remain.
Critique from your colleagues and advisors is very valuable. Don’t dismiss it without considering their viewpoint. Many negative situations could be avoided had the leaders given the opposition a chance.
Keeping a balance of the new and the old, foundational, ideas is a challenge. Don’t cave to pressure to go extreme. Use your initial mission as your plumb line to stay true, and grow vertically.