This week we continue on in our focus on the most popular (aka “the sexiest”) topic in leadership: strategic thinking. In last week’s posting, we acknowledged that strategic leaders not only help unearth great ideas, but they navigate them through organizational gauntlets to get implemented. Strategic leaders do this in spite of the fact that great ideas don’t get implemented simply because they are great. Organizational change is more complex than that.
* Last week we covered the first two steps for bringing innovative ideas to fruition:
Step #1: Expect resistance
Step #2: Appreciate the pain
Now, we’re ready for the step #3 and a video to help us feel what its like for new ideas to reach their potential.
Step #3: Be a patient nurturer
If we expect resistance and embrace it as it reveals to us everything we must consider for our best ideas to succeed, it makes sense that the process would take time. As we seek out the thoughts and inputs of all the necessary stakeholders, in some cases to win their support and in all cases to receive their critical feedback, time will be passing. And that’s ok, because time is what many people need to become comfortable with new ideas, especially as they are being tweaked and morphed to take everything into account that they must in order to be successfully implemented. In order to chart the path forward, we must see ourselves less as fervent crusaders and more as patient nurturers.
Feel It For Yourself In 60 Seconds
Even if you are an IPDM (“Incredibly Powerful Decision Maker”) in your organization and hold the rare authority to speak organizational change into existence, these three steps are still worth your attention. Why? Because following them isn’t merely about getting great ideas implemented. These steps are also about improving those ideas (Step #2) and earning genuine support from those who have to live with these changes moving forward (Steps #2 and #3). So even if you have the power and authority to skip some of these steps, being a wise and effective leader means restraining yourself from doing so.
I’ve failed at healthy organizational change in my past. I’ve frustrated myself and others as I’ve pushed for organizational changes without being mature enough to embrace the three needed steps. I’ve let myself be surprised by pushback and objections. I’ve attempted to convince and cajole when I should have been curiously asking questions. I’ve seen the organizational causes that have struck a chord within me as immutably and immediately important without considering the reasonable pressures and priorities of others.
Because of my failures, I was blown away recently by a commercial from General Electric. Though aimed at the idea of innovation, this 60 second spot speaks volumes about the realities of organizational change birthed from new ideas. It is a brilliant piece that generates for its audience the very discomfort that new ideas create within our organizations. Watch it remembering that no matter how great our new ideas may be, (1) they will be met with resistance, (2) those resistance points show us the path toward improvement and successful implementation, and (3) the process of bringing these ideas to fruition is fostered best through patient nurturing. If we are to reach our potential as leaders, we must manage ourselves well, both intellectually and emotionally, as we leverage the best ideas to drive positive organizational change.
Here’s the commercial. Enjoy it. Feel it.
Share Your Thoughts: When you have led the successful implementation of new ideas, have these three steps played a role in your process, and if so, how? What do you think of GE’s video? What emotions and thoughts did it foster within you as you watched? We’d love to hear from you. Join the conversation by clicking here.
* This blog post and last week’s were originally published on The Aperio blog in October of 2014. These concepts fit so well within our current series on strategic thinking — especially as it pertains to driving positive change through new ideas — that they simply had to be republished at this time.