So many initiatives, so little time. I was recently at one of the world’s largest small package delivery companies to help them figure out how to make their many initiatives ‘stick’ within the company. Their executive made of the most important statements I’ve heard in a very long time, “There is one of me, and there are hundreds of thousands of them.”
There was something very real in his semi-joking statement. Leadership is greatly outnumbered. The best ideas for the bottom and top line and most critical initiatives, like safety and environmental, are launched and fail to find critical mass because the actual behaviors within the organization never change. Sound familiar?
There are really two ways to make strategy into reality…1) find a way to change the day-to-day behavior in key parts (or all) of the organization, and, 2) find a way to measure the change in a way that shows where change adoption is taking place and where it isn’t. Easier said than done.
Within the typical organizational ‘pyramid’, the sheer numbers of people who need to be aligned to a new idea or way of doing business means that companies launching initiatives without a great plan and a healthy portion of automation are fighting an uphill battle. We can rely on charismatic leadership combined with luck to gain the upper hand or we can make a real investment in how well we understand, communicate and measure how things are really being done.
Years have been spent automating the way data moves around an enterprise, and it is fair to say that we’re in a cycle of diminishing returns when it comes to pushing the envelope on transactional automation. We now know exactly how many transactions are being done and where they take place, but we have yet to align the day-to-day work of the people in a way that allows initiatives to become reality.
If we put the same focus on knowing and measuring the real activities of (less-predictable) people that we took with (highly predictable) transactions, there comes a point in time where there is just the one leading the many in a way that makes our initiatives the starting point for a new reality. This isn’t years out of reach… it is happening in some of the best companies as I type.