“If I can’t picture it, I can’t understand it”

Posted by Robert Beauchemin on Mar 25, 2008

This famous quote from Albert Einstein rings so true to me. If Einstein needed a picture to understand, be assured it is even truer for employees. I have met with 8 CEOs over the last week. They all had a few things in common:

  • They are all entrepreneurs
  • They all have great ambitions and aspirations
  • They are all brilliant people
  • They all want to grown their company
  • They all want to "shake" their companies from their torpor

But, as they explained how they were going to shake the torpor, I have to say that all of them were all over the map. All of them!

So, how is their staff supposed to get it? This erratic discourse is symptomatic of organizations who have not done the basic effort of analysing precisely how they got were they are. They are not creating a plan to shake the torpor; they are throwing ideas together that further shows the lack of deep reflection.

Leadership must make brutally clear the organization's reality, its envisioned future and the plan (read the strategic plan) to get there. My advice is pause please; and do the following:

  • Know Thy Fundamental Belief : Remind yourself of the core belief. What is that belief that is shared amongst employees, investors, and customers?
  • Know Thyself and Thy Environment : Remind yourself and your employees why the company is where it is. Not via some anecdotal recital, but by digging and analyzing the past: your past strategies, your past successes and failures, your competitors, the market shifts, the macro-economic factors, etc…
  • Build A Vision : Not a vision statement, but an envisioned future. Remind yourself where you are trying to take the organization over the next 3-5 years. Describe the envisioned future in vivid colors; describe what this envisioned future looks like.
  • Declare A Culture : The culture is certainly one reason the organizations need a shake up. Declare a culture that will clearly articulates an enhanced DNA focused on achieving your goals and aspirations.
  • Select Core Strategies : To reach the envisioned future, you need to express the 4-5 major stratagems that, if executed concurrently and effectively, will make your future a reality.
  • Design The Organization : Make sure that the organization is designed with a focus to execute stratagems, and that the people have the right skills, experience and personality for the tasks at hand.
  • Plan To Change : Articulate what needs to change, what needs to stop, want needs to be started. Clarifying priorities and critical success factors. Look at your compensation model. Look at key aspects of your organization to ensure that alignment exists. If alignment does not exist, plan to change.

All of this is done for only one reason: paint a comprehensive and compelling picture so that all would understand, and justify the changes and the plan.