“In the absence of clearly-defined goals, we become strangely loyal to performing daily trivia until ultimately we become enslaved by it.”Robert A. Heinlein
TheGreek word for “sin” is Hamartia. Hamartia isan archery term and means “missing the mark.” My translation is to be “off track” or to be wandering aimlessly without purpose, without something to “aim for”. Many of us do not take time to formulate a vision for ourselves. Beyond he individual many organisations lack a central vision for their people. In such cases, employees are busy, but busy completing vastly disconnected tasks. This is akin to an octopus on rollerblades, there is lots of movement but no direction.
The point of this Thursday Thought is not that we need a vision or a North Star for an organisation – that is a necessity – but that we need to be increasingly flexible about how we get there.
In the past, I worked in digital transformation and colleagues often criticised me for my common deviations from the plan. At the time, I lacked a mental model to explain why the plan kept changing. This was beautifully articulated in the recent Innovation Show episode with the Institute for the Future’s Bob Johansen. He explained, there will be an increasing tension between vision and reality, that will sort itself out in the coming decade.
Bob works closely with the US army and shared how they are prototyping a future where hierarchies are no longer static; but animated. This is because the old system of command-and-control only works in predictable slow-moving environments, and there aren’t very many of those any more. Just like the structure of an organisation is shape shifting, then so must its roadmap.
Yes an organisation must be crystal clear on where it wants to get to, but ultra flexible on how to get there.
This encapsulates what is known as an emergent strategy versus a deliberate one as discussed on the latest episode of the Innovation show with Dr Nadya Zhexembayeva. A deliberate strategy was appropriate for a steady and staid environment in which nothing really changed. In that 20th century world a 10 plus year strategy made sense. However, today, amidst a cacophony of change only an emergent, fluid strategy makes sense. The proponent of an emergent strategy mindset is Henry Mintzberg, who said it best when he said, “When the world is predictable you need smart people. When the world is unpredictable you need adaptable people.”
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If you are aligned with this thinking and would like to explore a conceptual journey of change, you may like my forthcoming book: “Undisruptable” which promotes a mindset of permanent reinvention coming in March 2021. It is also available in a story-rich, visual and experiential course for organisations big and small.
“Aidan McCullen has lived a fascinating life of major change. In his book, ‘Undisruptable’; he brings us a method for making sense of the external world, and an accessible and visual approach to letting go of the past, and welcoming the future with a mindset of permanent reinvention. It is a timely, thoughtful book, well worth reading.” – Dee Hock, founder and CEO Emeritus of VISA and author of One from Many: VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organization