While staying in the zone where we’ve always existed seems like the obvious, safe, no-risk strategy, it may mean we’ve become creatively constipated. If so, sticking with the status quo is not a good strategy. Think Motorola, Kodak, and Sears, to name but a few familiar recent examples. Just like individuals, entire organizations can get stuck.
If true, how can we get “unstuck?” What’s the organizational equivalent of prunes and pills we can use to relieve a creatively constipated company?
It may be tough to get the collective awareness to admit there’s a problem. It also may be preferable to stay in denial if there’s not an easy solution in clear view. Let’s use a weather analogy to demonstrate the problem. Research by the National Weather Service shows that people often ignore disastrous weather warnings because they reason that tornadoes and hurricanes have veered and avoided them in the past. These folks see patterns where none exist. Plus, they associate “home” with “safety” because nothing has happened to them in the past, thus providing them with a false sense of security. Since organizations can function as organizations writ large, can any entire company’s future be at risk of a disruption disaster because of a false sense of security? Mike Tyson, put it this way, “Everyone has a strategy until you get punched in the face.”
“We do ‘strategic planning’ periodically,” they may say in response. However, “strategic planning” can be an oxymoronic expression because many organizations spend more time planning than thinking in a truly strategic fashion. Their default generally is to get through the more difficult thinking part so they can get back to more planning, as most of us are left, linear, logical brain-oriented. The result? Teams become mentally constipated, most importantly, those tasked with strategy and leadership of the company.
It’s not just for the sake of being “new and different, but in a dynamic, globally competitive world, to keep from becoming irrelevant like the three companies cited above. If your company has been in this state for a while, you need to shake things up to get the organization out of its comfort zone. You can begin by soliciting ideas from both internal and external stakeholders about existing blind spots. Clearly define your pain points. Turn them into questions. If this doesn’t work, get help from proven experts.