A Critical Doer generates motion from “why” more than “what”
Author and Blogger Steve Keating recently published a very humorous post that highlights the importance of communicating purpose when you are trying to overcome organizational inertia and gain forward momentum.
The story highlights an ostrich that saw some eagles flying and was inspired to learn so he could also experience the exhilaration of flight. The ostrich sought out a flying school in order to soar like the eagles. Through dedication and perseverance, the ostrich learned to fly and after receiving his graduation certificate…walked home. The gosh darn ostrich didn’t fly home…he walked home!
My guess is the ostrich didn’t have a clear sense of purpose as to why the time had been invested learning to fly. Absent a clear sense of direction, the ostrich followed its instinct when the stress of the flying school was done. In the void left by an ill-defined sense of purpose, “what we’ve always done” filled the void and for the ostrich that was to walk home.
Have you ever been in an organization where an investment was made in learning new skills that could produce a competitive advantage but along the way slipped back into doing “what’s always done?” Believe it or not, the backslide from progress to the status quo can actually be more crippling than imitating the ostrich by sticking your head in the sand in hope of escaping reality.
Clear leadership vision that includes a strong dose of communicating purpose is the key to getting an organization to capitalize on learning new skills versus slipping back to the status quo. One way a Critical Doer can communicate this is through the phrase “in order to.” Had the ostrich approached the problem with a statement of “I will learn to fly in order to…” it’s likely the ostrich would have used the new skill rather than walking home…the way it’s always been done.
Your challenge is to look for a situation where you are making the right investment in your organization, whether it’s a capital investment or training, but you maybe haven’t communicated a clear sense on purpose that spells out what the organization will gain from the new investment and what it stands to lose from retreating to the way it’s always been done. Articulate a complete thought using “in order to” for communicating purpose and you will increase the probability of successfully moving your organization forward. It’s what a Critical Doer would…do!
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