Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Power of Getting Dis-organized

Day #5 of Leadershape and we are in the home stretch. Today is the last full day and then it is home to Dallas on Friday afternoon. I have to say, I am looking forward to seeing my family, but I will certainly be sad to see my time with these students end.

Even though I've facilitated the Leadershape curriculum numerous times, I inevitably have new "ahas." Today I had an "aha" around an excerpt by Colin Powell. I've seen it a million times, but today I actually understood it. I'll share it and then, I think, I actually have an interesting test of your creativity. Check it out.

"Never neglect details. When everyone's mind is dulled or distracted, the leader must be doubly vigilant. Strategy equals execution. All the great ideas and visions in the world are worthless if they can't be implemented rapidly and efficiently. Good leaders delegate and empower others liberally, but they pay attention to details, every day. (Think bout supreme athletic coaches like Jimmy Johnson, Pat Riley, and Tony LaRussa.) Bad ones, even those who fancy themselves progressive "visionaries," think they're somehow "above" operational details. Paradoxically, good leaders understand something else: an obsessive routine carrying out the details begets conformity and complacency, which in turn dulls everyone's mind. That is why even as they pay attention to details, they continually encourage people to challenge the process. They implicitly understand that the job of a leader is not to be the chief organizer, but the chief dis-organizer."

I love this excerpt. Powell does such a nice job of capturing the danger of complacency. We strive to develop systems, at home and in the work place, that are rapid and efficient. It might be tasks such as doing laundry, feeding the family, cleaning the house, or something work or community related. In our effort to be efficient,we might not see Powell's observation, that "obsessive routine' begets conformity and complacency."

So let's be creative and be honest with ourselves. Today, let's stretch our creativity to identify conformity and complacency in our own lives. What system have you put in place at home, in your community, or in your work place, that while highly efficient is responsible for fostering complacency?

More importantly, what are some ways you might shake it up? Jump in on this one and play. It will require some real thought on your part, but it is a great exercise in both leadership and creativity. Who knows, I might even throw in a prize for good measure.

Signing off until tomorrow...

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