When a system is down, IT must fix it.
When compensation is inequitable, HR must fix it.
When a product fails a customer, Product Management must fix it.
Breaks, cracks, and failures are problems needing solutions. They exist in binary states – working or not working.
But the calls we get – from business or HR leaders trying to “solve” culture problems or operating model problems or engagement or coaching or leadership (shall I keep going??) problems – call for something different.
Culture and operating models aren’t binary – working or broken. They’re not problems to be solved. They’re meant instead to be shaped, enhanced, explored, iterated on…one step at a time.
So if it’s time to stop seeking solutions…what do you do instead?
Decide what things should taste like
Seeing and hearing are pervasive senses – we use them all day without much thought.
Tasting is intentional. It’s purposeful. It’s more specific. And I want to understand specifically what you’re seeking.
Generic sounds like this:
“Our operating model keeps us in silos” OR “Our culture inhibits people from speaking up.”
OK. But I want more. I want to know specifically:
- What are the observable actions and behaviors you see that are troubling you?
- What results or outcomes are you troubled by seeing or not seeing?
- What would look, feel, and taste different if this situation were improved?
- What indicators will tell you that you’ve arrived there?
Spot your barriers
Before you decide you need a training or a new set of leadership competencies…let’s explore why we’re seeing these troubling behaviors in the workplace. What if it’s not a competency issue?
What if the real problem is incentives? Or the absence of free time? Or a lack of clear expectations?
We can’t move what we can’t see. Sometimes the thing you need isn’t the addition of something new to the system, but rather the removal of what holds you back.
Choose just one step
Don’t spend months collecting reams of data to analyze, or socializing a single big-bet idea with dozens of executives.
Pick something low-stakes and give it a go. You’re not looking for a 180-degree turnaround. You just need a small increment of better. And then another. And another.
And before you decide something “didn’t work” ask yourself: What was I expecting of it? Maybe it was too much…
If you choose wisely and safely, you’ll never need to ask permission again.
You may just need to trust me on this one.
Assess. Again and again
Remember those observable actions and behaviors? Are you seeing more of them? Fewer?
You don’t need complex surveys and heavy analytics to tell you what’s working. You just need to observe, ask great questions, and listen and respond with empathy.
I hope this feels simple but not simplistic. If we can help, it’s our pleasure. Just a chat is a treat. Don’t be shy. Reach out any time.