How short cuts tend to cut short almost everything.

There are a number of reasons performers choke when the pressure is on to deliver. One of which is the side stepping of certain steps in the process to becoming. Sometimes these steps are deemed unnecessary and at other times they are considered too difficult and not worth the trouble.

Deemed not necessary because afterall, performance levels are already above 95% of the population – why go any farther?

It takes time.

As a background, some things take days to become, while others take much longer. It’s this day to day grind that builds capacity to the point where the right decisions can be taken. The more thorough this process is, the more likely performance is consistent.

But it’s worth it.

Needless to say, there are no shortcuts to building anything worth remembering and one would do well to invest in the process and learn the lessons. One can only imagine the amount of progress that could be recorded if the right track is taken and again, consistently so.

To the surprise of some, the recent popularity of slow food is on the rise again, thanks in part to the many health issues associated with fast food. But also thanks to deliberate methods that take more time (hours actually) to produce the best tasting food.

“No matter how great the talent or efforts, some things just take time. You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.” Warren Buffet

A new way to think.

According to research by Goldman Sachs consumers, especially those of the millennial generation are among the most health conscious group and have started to ask questions surrounding the full costs of fast food. That is, are the health risks of fast food worth the time saved?

Speed by all means is still important, but if quality (that is, the health conscious kind) could be added, then all the better. Now, it is these kind of “consumer-thoughtfulness” that stands out one competitor from the other.

What the work needs.

This also underscores an important part of becoming the leader the world so desperately needs –always learning, looking at new ways to becoming better, putting in the hours on the treadmill of value delivery, building the best possible experience for the customer.

Making the right investments.

Sometimes, the best days are ahead because the right investments have been made in the past – a track record of achievement, remarkable displays of talent, drive or just that warm and ready mind hungry enough to put in the necessary effort own product or service types, not by obliterating the competition, but by creating the best product or service possible. But a caveat; it’s also those weak connections that sometimes land the right opportunities

With time, there are no weaknesses.

In another vein (and this, much debated), it is those traits currently defined as “weaknesses” that make one a right fit for opportunities of the future. This is because as times change and societies evolve, behavioural patterns deemed unsociable become exact fits for certain job types.

So for example, introverts once regarded as too awkward have long lasting impact on their teams, much less lead organisations are now praised for their strong leadership abilities.

All part have a role to play.

It has been said that the tree is not in the seed. Yes, you read that correctly. The tree is not in the seed, for if it were, a seed would grow on asphalt pavement – anywhere in the world. Or, all seeds could grow everywhere. Part of the tree is in the soil, another part is in the wind, and yet another part is in the rain and the list goes on and on.

The tree (or desired outcomes) depends on input from a wide variety of sources that cannot be effectively harnessed through short cuts.

Put in the effort to learn the right lessons and consistently so for therein lies the secrets of long term leadership.

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Innovation, connection and the importance of you.

With the ability to recognise objects very, very, far, differentiating between colour, shade and degrees of movement, the human eye is a wonder. This is because its ability to receive and interpret light supporting the brain’s sense of direction, defining reality for most of the world.

The brain is yet another complex supercomputer able to recognise, analyse, synthesise, interpret and process the most relevant 2, 000 bits of information per second out of the 400 billion bits it receives. This part of the human system is still being studied as we speak and it is unlikely that the search to fully understand this complex machine will ever end.

And rightly so, universities, fields of study, billions in dollars and uncountable hours in research have been devoted to the study of the brain. Physically, the brain is 140 mm wide, 167 mm and 93 mm high weighing between 1,300 – 1,400 grams in full grown adults. There’s a thing about space – just how much is needed to make a difference?

engine

Yet again is the heart, which in an attempt to outdo the others, never stops working. This is not a part we want to stop working, going on vacations or off on sick leave. Whilst the eye can rest, by way of sleep, or the brain can have reduced activity, the human heart continues beating. To better understanding this, when seniors in Japan celebrate 105 years of existing in this planet, the simple conclusion is this; the heart has been beating every day for 105 years.

Not too long ago a leading carmaker had to recall 3.37 million cars because a part was dysfunctional, and yet another, asides from having to deal with a flood of lawsuits has agreed to pay $15 billion because performance tests were tinkered with to makes the cars appear more efficient. Considering the size of the parts responsible for these high dollar value recalls, it emerges that perhaps, not much space is required to be significant, to make a lasting difference, or to inspire change.

And then there’s the concept of whether a part can be replaced in the i-don’t-need-you-anymore sense. This question becomes more important the more the subject’s sophistication. And then there’s the concept of whether a part can be replaced In the case of the brain, science is yet to match its level of processing capacity, unable to handle objective and subjective decisions at the same.

Eyesight in terms of its ability to communicate seamlessly with the brain is yet to be completely replicated by the efforts of the science community. It is probably, of the three, the most closely replicated but this has been at much cost.

Just how much space is required to be a difference? Like the eye, despite its size, seeing things ahead is key to growing organisations grow and remain resilient.

Here’s a bit of the point; every part of an organisation has a value not only in itself, but in the fact that others depend on it. In many organisations, some parts of the business are regarded as more important and historically, this might be accurate.

However, the current wave of innovation (which will not be ending anytime soon) means that the best ideas could come from any part of the business.

And so it may be wise to follow through on the much discussed respect among divisions. A common example of this is the current criticality of today’s social media manager to the success of consumer brands, political parties and governments.

Decades ago, not many thought that the race for the presidency of the most powerful nation on earth would by heavily influenced by 140 characters.

As the heart, the recommendation is to never stop moving regardless of the current environment. Although there have been cases made by well-regarded authors and athletes as to when quitting makes sense, it seems reasonable to keep moving, looking for new ways to advance where the old ways no longer work.

 

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I knew it! (Or, in retrospect, the future was always obvious.)

When cars are more than the intended road capacity, and the roads are not getting any bigger, traffic congestion and its attendant effects on the human body and the environment is only a matter of time.

Increased stress levels, complex health challenges and a significantly weakened environment became the now obvious outcome.

After several years conducting covert military operations to reconstitute nations, contrary ideologies were bound to emerge, or where already in existence, receive a motivational boost from the perceived intrusion of the “intervening” nation.

This became obvious as splinter groups realised that they could back their ideologies with firepower significant enough to get the world’s attention.

Again, it remains one of the wonders of the world of business that firms believe (at some fundamental level) that taxes can be avoided (“delayed” becomes the term when actors are caught) and corners can be cut. Yes, it’s true and despite the many convictions, out of court settlements and prolonged court cases, tax evasions continue.

But this too in retrospect was obvious as systems created to maintain the necessary balance between opposing economic forces could be manipulated.

The statistics on civil unrest, fraud, theft, arson and crime in general and this appear to be another wonder – almost as if the entire planet is on the precipice of oblivion, about to make the jump into the unknown.

But then research shows how little time parents spend with their children, the now normal rise of individualism as opposed to the more society friendly communal style of living, the absence of strong mentors and the erosion of a moral code. And then in the end, it was obvious.

The outcome was always inevitable, crime had nowhere else to go but up.

Firms wonder why they copy strategies used by the competition and it doesn’t work, however sincere the adjustments made for the competitors business model. The borrowing organisation having the passion to succeed, but not the right vision, and consequently the wrong culture, devolving into the wrong strategy rendering every effort thereon a waste of time.

In the end, it was always obvious, “copy and paste” could appear to be, but would never be the real thing. Plus, the world of business and a blank Microsoft word page couldn’t have fewer things in common.

It may be in the nature of systems burdened with unrealistic growth expectations that corners are cut to meet the numbers and this sometimes in partnership with Governments.

There is always change, and it is always on the horizon until it flits past and then it’s obvious. Changes of the past is always obvious in retrospect – clearly things couldn’t continue in a certain way and people wonder how they lived without the advancements that have now come to stay. But then, why does it take industries by surprise?

There is usually an unwillingness to believe that a good run might be coming to an end, and must be changed.

This leads to a struggle to hold on by all means necessary to the systems that are in decline. So several props are is applied until the structures of the past can no longer bear the weight of the present’s demands.

This leads to the demise of great firms, irrespective of how old they were, what they’ve survived and how successful they had been.

The world couldn’t use the horse and carriage forever, as it could only travel so far. Neither could one spend months travelling by sea. Something had to give – the rate of population growth and the pace of man’s desires, ambitions combined to force out the new.

There is something to be said in favour of those who hold on the past as there have been changes that did not herald the future. These changes only destroyed what was currently efficient; hence phrases like “don’t change a winning team”, “don’t reinvent the wheel”, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

In practice, executing change, especially in large organisations is not as straightforward as management popular literature suggests. Next, companies, management and boards need to be aware that they may be more vested in existing structures than they think. This is why more investment is usually required to make consumers switch away from the competition’s brand.

A possible way out is to make company influencers own the change effort and attempt a execution person to person method.

It has been said that the best way to predict the future is to create it. One must then imagine what it would be if 7 billion plus people “created” the future – it would be a recipe for chaos.

A better position might be to have some who create the future and others who predict it.

That way more eyes are on the possible outcomes of present decisions thereby reducing the chances of seeing things only in retrospect.

Being Irreplaceable.

Being Irreplaceable

Max Weber was a 20th century German sociologist, philosopher and political economist who developed some of today’s well-known management theories. These theories influenced how the worker came to be seen as a tool for organisational growth.

For example, office seating arrangements to better manage absenteeism was in part his idea. The process of managing talent via apprenticeship such that we get the most of them, and even lighting up a work area are all supported by his work.

Again, the usage of first name only among members of an organisation irrespective of age to engender a commonality of purpose and a focus on results.

This side stepped cultural attachments to seniority whereby younger minds keep silent as the older ‘more experienced’ colleagues made occasional but avoidable blunders in judgment.

Organisations largely assume that talent for the most part is replaceable, or at least should not have holding power over the fortunes of an organisation such that their exit is guarded against at all costs.

The general thinking seems to be that the organisation should never depend on the best players as this shifts the centre of power and could makes the ship somewhat difficult to control.

It is said that an individual cannot possibly hold an organisation’s performance to ransom (either for good or bad) through ability, network or unique set of skills. To this end, firms have backup plans for the potential exit of any player in a bid to sustain performance.

Still, business leaders would agree that some individuals are almost impossible to replace.

This also makes any present or future negotiations on roles, responsibilities and rewards trickier. Thing is, every once in a while, there are those who make the difference and in many respects cannot be replaced or, where would France be without its Napoleon, the US without its Washington?

There was Alexander the Great whose drive for expansion is still studied in many business schools, colleges of war, and even during executive retreats. How does someone expand so far so quickly? Irrespective of the track record, strength or standing of the enemy, Alexander always won and was known to be magnanimous in victory.

How does an organisation plan for the replacement of such a contributor? Are there a special schools where Alexanders are trained – given matchless drive and an all-consuming desire to win?

During World War 2, Sir Winston Churchill galvanized what would become the allies to bring the advancement of the sweeping German army to a halt. Now, whether it was before during or after his leadership of Great Britain there are assortments of failures from which to choose from.

One could even look at this appearance and hurriedly conclude that he couldn’t be much of a threat even as other countries were either contemplating advanced surrender or looking for ways to negotiate some form of truce with the Germany.

One could argue he wasn’t morally sound, lacked finesse, spoke too much or unearth whatever list of weaknesses history has been kind enough to forget. Still he stood up when it mattered and made the tough calls no one else wanted to make.

There are no leadership programs that produce Churchills, Napoleons or Alexanders.

There are certain kinds of people that can’t be replaced, or if they can, at a significant cost. And cost not only in terms of resources, but the opportunity cost of ideas that would have brought to the table. It could also be that aggressive can do spirit, infectious winning attitude or boundless belief in the vision of the organisation.

The departure of these ‘irreplaceables’ can’t be completely hedged against and organisations are almost powerless when it comes to getting a replacement. They are the ones who the key man risk don’t cover, central to the firm’s strategy and it would be a journey into the land of pretense if we said it wasn’t so.

Therefore, I suggest a different strategy, the creation of the right environment for innovative talent, where leadership prepares to be wrong sometimes (and that without much evidence) and listens to what they say. Now, as hard as it sounds this is the easy part – that is, when they have shown clear signs of ability.

A more difficult road (with greater rewards) is finding them when they, like Napoleon in his early years, are yet to get an assignment, or like Churchill, yet to get a seat in government, or like Alexander unable to ride a horse.

When they look incapable of becoming the powerhouse they are capable of becoming.

So, I suspect firms are likely to be divided along two principal lines – those that see talent before it becomes clear for others to see and nurture it to the point of mastery, creating company loyalty at levels strangely heard of today. Or those who wait for talent to become as bright as the noon day sun and pay a king’s ransom for their services.

Individual talent can choose to become the talent everyone wants to have in their team that is personal development to the point of mastery.

This is the challenge.

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The Reason We Still Need Dreamers.

Every once in a while, societies are upended, and life is significantly redefined. Standards change and the norm no longer works. Choosing to continue in old patterns while familiar become impractical. Persisting in same has seen the end of many an organisation.

The light bulb replaced the oil lamp, the automobile replaced the horse and carriage, and email has replaced surface mail for communication.

Looking at the beginning of such advancements reveals certain points.

At the start, the carriers of these ideas were largely regarded unwell and either because of the passion for the dream or the beauty of the idea, they kept on. And history remembers that they did – them, and not those who labeled them unwell.

Of course, there are risks to attempting the unusual. But then, pushing beyond what is normal is the definition of progress. Wouldn’t it be worth all the investment finding lasting solutions to the many issues of the world today? What if there was a way to solve the most complex challenges our world faces – wouldn’t it be worth it risking all we have come to define as comfort?

There’s so much to be done out there, so much good, so many differences to make.

And by the way, if your line of thinking has not been questioned in a while, then yes, the system has succeeded and you are now certified normal.

Congratulations.

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