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Lead Your Organization Away from Being Too Independent in Working with Trends

Mar 12, 2008
If you are a leader in your enterprise (whether formally by job or informally by credibility), you have an opportunity to ask questions that can expose the weaknesses of internally dominated thinking. The best questions are those that expose the lack of external testing of your organization's thinking.

Those in your company to whom you pose such questions will soon realize that you'll inevitably ask about external testing, and will soon learn to do such testing in advance to avoid the potential embarrassment of being unprepared when you ask. Of course, the best way to begin this change is to warn everyone that you will be doing this and to explain why you are doing it. Use stories of successes and failures that people themselves have experienced to help bring home the message.

How can you use personal examples to help others learn the benefits of having allies and a broader perspective?

A great way to begin is to isolate some area that is troublesome to everyone about an irresistible force. Let's say that your company is beset by the irresistible force of rapidly dropping prices for your products or services. Perhaps the troublesome problem related to this circumstance could be how to accelerate cost reductions fast enough to surpass competitors and the rate of price decreases.

You might take an area where you are responsible for costs and use internal and external allies to create a vastly lower-cost solution. You should later share this experience as a case history for everyone of how you used allies to do this. Then, you could follow the case history with some private thoughts for each person about how they could apply the same approach in their own cost areas.

Once everyone is good at using this approach for costs, you can pick a new example in another irresistible force area and repeat the experience.

How can you involve the rest of your enterprise in activities that will teach them to seek out and become good allies?

Personal example is once again a good path. Cross-industry research organizations are one of the fastest-growing ways that executives are creating more involvement among their colleagues in seeking out and becoming good allies.

You can ask those you are already allies with about such organizations, and get involved in them yourself. Through contacts in those organizations, you can get ideas about other organizations from which people in your company would benefit in terms of new perspectives and allies. Share your successes and insights with your colleagues and help them get started down the same path.

Ultimately, they'll learn best by having hands-on experience in developing their own relationships and seeing the benefits flourish as a result. While they are just beginning to learn how to do this, be sure that you coach them by asking questions about what each is doing in order to be sure they are locating the areas of mutual advantage with regard to irresistible forces.

IBM does this well in their successful outsourcing relationships where they operate the IT function for customers. Without IBM understanding what its customer partners want (both in and out of the IT function) in the beginning, there can be no basis for a successful alliance. Otherwise, without this coaching your colleagues may develop new relationships, but never learn how to use the allies for greater company growth and success.

How can you permanently abolish internal myopia?

Challenge your enterprise to approach the ideal best practice for adapting to important irresistible forces. Setting the goal of finding the best way that anyone can ever adapt to an irresistible force as a normal objective for your organization requires a broad perspective on alternative ways of operating, what the future best practice will be, and emerging capabilities in other enterprises. By encouraging this perspective, you'll permanently smash the lenses that only permit seeing choices from the internal viewpoint, and add the benefits of having strong tailwinds to aid your progress toward breakthrough gains.
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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