When will we stop just surviving?

We become what we focus on.  The surest way to create a habit (for good or for bad) is to focus relentlessly on repeating the same patterns of behaviour and thinking.  And that’s what worries me.  Our companies and organisations have been ploughing pretty much the same furrow for a long time now.

The malaise that has hung over the economy for several years has created a series of habits within our executive population that has seen them become ‘expert’ in running affairs in a very particular way.  Yes, houses needed to be put in order, cost reductions (probably overdue in some areas) were necessary, educating the entire workforce in seeking efficiencies was sensible, and asking tough questions about what was core business for the future, have all been necessary and useful exercises.

So, what’s my concern?  Well, let’s imagine fictitious Company A.  Here, people have stayed in this mindset for too long, to the exclusion of other ways of thinking, a habit has been formed, which has become harder and harder to break. The senior executives and middle managers have become obsessed by cost reduction spreadsheet reviews, incidental expenditure policy changes, efficiency targets that become embroiled in inter-department disputes about double-counting savings, and the policing of travel bans. Accompanying this ‘inward-looking’ focus they have been swamped by demands for more and more metrics, reports and updates to satisfy themselves, and every layer of management, that things are on track, and people are doing what is expected of them. Of course, this has generated an atmosphere which is lacking in trust, resulting in duplicated reporting, with departments wanting to make sure that their own house is in order before sharing numbers to the wider organisation where they may be exposed.

I make no apology, for painting such a depressing picture of what I suggest is the reality of  day to day life in companies, and government departments, up and down countries, in various parts of the world at this time. This all amounts to ‘Managing for Survival’, when what is called for is a mindset of ‘Leading to Grow’.

You may even recognise some of this in your own company or in your own behaviour?  It’s my guess that many executives and middle managers have lost focus and believe that how they are operating is ‘how things are meant to be’. It has taken everyone down in to the engine-room of the ship, leaving no-one on deck or on the bridge, looking out for new land, or blue skies. It has become Continue reading