As a strategist, I will never forget the moment I realized that culture trumps strategy. It was a long, humbling winter. I remember it well. The development team I worked on had designed a fantastic market strategy and now I was the person responsible for executing it. I was delighted. It was time for me to show those operations people how to make strategy come to life.
Those six months changed me forever. Here are the lessons I learned and live by today:
Lesson 1: If your organization isn’t aligned, it won’t go anywhere it hasn’t been.
It is the leader’s responsibility to inspire people to see what they cannot yet see and to build the energy and the heartbeat of the Tribe. Talk about the future and where it will lead. Share the challenges and your faith that together you can do remarkable things. When people feel inspired, their potential is awakened and so is your organization’s.
Lesson 2: When it comes to change, look for progress not perfection.
Change is hard and, for most people, frightening. Most people would rather stay in a job they hate than find a new job and make a change. Change means that people will need to do things differently and this means they may not be as competent in the “new world order.” Competency creates confidence so it is only natural that during times of change people feel highly uncomfortable, as they are less competent. Progress is the key to momentum. Momentum gets you moving in the new direction.
Lesson 3: Never think that your enthusiasm can be the only momentum.
You have to engage everyone into joining your mission. The perspective of “what is in it for me?” still holds true for most of us, so make sure people see the value in your strategies and how their participation will play an important role in the Community’s success. Get your people engaged.
Lesson 4: Everyone feels great when they are engaged.
Engagement opens up communication and, therefore, creates new approaches and possibilities. When a team is aligned against the organization’s strategic direction, there is more proactive and innovative thinking. Engagement makes people feel like a troop in unison. Proud. Focused. Powerful.
Lesson 5: Be prepared for the naysayers.
Not everyone comes along at the same pace. Give them time and if they can’t get on board, cut them loose. There are those people who think culture is just “rah-rah” stuff. It is true that culture bonds people together into a powerful force and that does feel good. And there is nothing “rah-rah” about the power of synergy.
Lesson 6: A strong culture is your best strategy.
I can see those operations people smiling….