Unbeatable

The Tirpitz was a WWII German warship that could not be sunk.

The Titanic was iceberg-proof

The 1980 Russian Olympic Hockey team was going to win the gold metal, no question.

Sears is too big to ever be taken down by an online retailer.

Wal-Mart will never pass K-mart

Be careful of these statements and perceived realities. There’s always something or someone to defy the odds, and to beat the unbeatable. Whether we’re David or Goliath, watch, look, and listen. The impossible may be closer to reality than we think.

Dissent

Allow dissenting voice in meetings, especially around strategic discussions and direction. If  dissent doesn’t define this idea clearly, call it “allowing opposing viewpoints.” Some will say “I’m playing the devil’s advocate for a moment.” Phrasing aside, I find it good to appoint someone to state the “cons”, to point out the roadblocks, to take the opposite view, to articulate the worst case scenario. I’m not always excited about the opposing view. In fact for many years I didn’t think it necessary to hear, nor did I advocate for it. It made me uncomfortable. It still does at times. This is good. It allows freedom for all to vent their perspective and be heard. Collaboration in decision making wins. I’ve made many mistakes alone or in isolated decisions. Again, collaboration wins. Dissent and opposing viewpoints are one key part of that process. All stakeholders must voice input. In the end, the leader makes the decision, but  it’s harder to make the wrong one when all the facts are on the table and we are fully informed.

Until You Shift Your Focus

There are those days or times in our companies when we realize something needs to change. A paradigm shift needs to take place; a re-prioritization of time and leadership focus; another person to take over a role that is not being accommodated in an appropriate manner. It’s a conviction, a nagging thought, a recurring issue, a pain-point, that is becoming more and more obvious. Yet often we are not aligned with the need or issue. This is particularly true in a growth oriented environment because we will typically will find ourselves in a situation that we’ve never been before. Either our schedule, our focus, our skill set, or sheer force of habit will find us delaying the inevitable, or not really knowing exactly what to do. Sometimes those around us see it more plainly than we do. Clients often see it in first (and worst) as they are the recipient of our services or products. In these times we need to resist passivity, resist the past, resist fear or doubt, and we need to make a change; shift our focus. How do we do it? What does this look like? It can take multiple or various forms. Let me provide a few thoughts and examples from my experience as a start-up founder, and professional services company manager and leader.

1. Promote someone you trust. Hand over responsibilities to them and then coach them, rather than doing the work yourself. Do it today.

2. Develop a new job description or modify an existing one to accommodate the need.

3. Develop a process. Do it with those affected by the situation. Do it on your feet. Don’t delay. Confront every problem as an operational exercise to improve or refine a process. Revise as you proceed. Shift as necessary

4. Change your focus; shift your focus; re-allocate your time and priorities. Manage schedule aggressively. Force yourself to decide what you are “NOT GOING TO DO”

5. Get inputs from peers, from a mentor, books, resources, whatever it takes. There is a wealth of information to pull from

6. Develop an advisory board or board of directors. Meet with them. Be accountable to them. This may the best thing you can possibly do to promote continuous improvement.

7. Find a mentor. Someone who’s been there and done that (or done similar)

8. Meet with your team and work together to identify and define the situation. Work out a solution together.

9. Get out of the office; work remotely; think. Write. Monitor activity from a new perspective. Gaps and issues will be come more obvious.

10. Trust your people. Get out-of-the-way. Facilitate and support them. Stop meddling. Go do the work only you can do and stop doing the work of others

Look in the mirror, plant your feet firmly in the ground, and resolve to yourself that you are going to make a change TODAY. One thing. Until we change our focus, adjust our schedule, re-prioritize our time, re-direct our energy, nothing will change. Move forward. Fail quickly, fail cheaply. Adjust immediately. Learn. Grow. Monitor, Listen. Start shifting the focus today and make a change; advance something forward.