Look behind you
Rather like a pantomime audience crying “Look behind you!”, it occurs to me that this approach would be well-practised in many organisations where the emphasis is on looking forward – which is as it should be – but without any reference to the current or the past. In our 24/7 world, we rarely take time out to reflect. It tends to elicit comments such as, “What are you doing? Haven’t you got anything to do? Come on, get a move on.” Which is all well and good if you are truly idling your time away but time out for genuine reflection happens so infrequently that we lose the opportunity to learn from it and to project our ideas for improvement into the future.
So why do I think it’s important to address the current and the past as well as looking forward? Well, some people are much more interested in moving towards a better future, while others focus more on getting away from the past. Neither approach is right or wrong, but it does impact on how people view situations. This is an important consideration in times of change.
Imagine the scenario, the top management team have been away for a strategy weekend and return bursting with vision and enthusiasm. Their focus has been on what they want the company to be in the future. However, the people who have to listen to the staff briefing may have more of an “away from” orientation. They won’t be interested in the vision. What they want to know is how the changes will help them get away from some of the things that they currently don’t like in the company. Has anyone spent time with them asking them for their perceptions of what is wrong with the company with a view to identifying a plan to move the company forward?
Both parties want to move in the same direction, but they are approaching the situation from opposing directions and for different reasons. Unfortunately, for the leaders, they will have difficulty convincing their staff of tomorrow’s bright new future if they have been unable to convince them, by deeds not words, that things can improve by tackling those issues which are currently causing problems for the staff right now.
So if you’re looking forward to a bright, new future and you encounter resistance, don’t lose heart but do consider whether you need to demonstrate your true commitment to the future by tackling some of the existing problems which are impacting negatively on day-to-day operations. I know it’s not “sexy” but if you want to achieve your vision, you might need to think seriously about adapting the early stages of your business plan to accommodate those whose focus is more on getting away from the past so that you can fulfil the move towards your vision of the future.