31 Jan Miles To Go
“We do not learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience.”
2020 is underway.
Deadlines – meetings – reports – emails – the latest crisis.
That holiday break back in December – does it seem like a distant memory yet?
For many of us – YES!
The hamster wheel is very real – and the default to mindless running threatens all of us from time to time.
“Hey,” you might say, “I don’t have TIME to stop and think…. I have stuff I have to do.”
The default to day-to-day details – to think only in operational terms – and to obsess over the latest crisis is a big part of our world.
All of us inevitably asks, “Am I doing things right today – and quickly enough?”
A better question might be, “Am I doing the right things today?”
For most of us – and for many companies – activity rules while strategy drools.
Of all the business attributes, none is more over-rated than experience – consecutive years of existence do not equal value. There is nothing more myopic than someone who has invested years of their life, learned nothing, and then hides behind the shield of “experience.”
A lifetime on the hamster wheel doesn’t make us brighter – it just makes us tired.
Enlightened companies are starting to take a long, hard look at the wheels they may be creating – and doubling down on their most important of resources – Human Capital.
One of the ways they’re doing that is by offering employees a heavier voice in one of the most misunderstood of elements.
Now wait just a darn minute, you might say. This notion of strategy is tossed around all the time. It’s one of the top ten buzzwords in our company. We breathe strategy.
Well, I breathe air – pretty much everyday. But that doesn’t make me an expert on the respiratory system – or proficient in holding my breath either.
Decades of talking about strategy has rendered limited to no understanding that the essence of strategic thinking is the generation and application of insights that ultimately create competitive advantage – not revolutions on the wheel.
Ask the typical employee, “What’s your company (or your department’s) business strategy?”
Then slip away, check your email, and make a phone call or two. There’s a good chance the next half hour is going to be wasted. The Harvard Business Review suggests 95% of employees have no idea of what the answer to that question is.
Sound high? Not when you consider that same source indicates senior executives are not too far behind – and that a majority have little to no understanding of strategy at all.
A great many talk strategy – very few understand what strategy really is.
Which is why we see the same common default – an affliction that runs deep in most companies.
Busyness – the hamster wheel.
Confusing activity with movement.
Rich Horwath’s book – Deep Dive – offers insight on the importance of cultivating strategic thinking – generating insights – and using those insights to leverage the collective experience of our work force.
The need is compounded when we consider that almost every company is wrestling with finding ways to drive truly sustainable organic growth – Gallup’s It’s The Manager reports that, for many organizations, the days of acquisition driven expansion are rapidly drawing to a close.
Translation – we are not going to simply buy a new division, a new product, or a new technology and expect to win the future.
That’s forcing a re-examination of the most important of resources – our Human Capital.
Progressive companies – and progressive leaders – are rethinking the employee value proposition – and yes, the mind numbing activity of the hamster wheel. Forbes report on the top companies to work for offers a fascinating glimpse of organizations that are immersing leaders and employees – in gathering insights.
Fascinating concept, isn’t it? Involving everyone in building and executing strategy.
The results – as regards profitability, productivity, and employee engagement – speak for themselves. (See companies like Alphabet and Amazon.)
Every company has a business strategy – or at least they believe they do, no matter how poorly executed it may be.
But the most visionary of companies are crafting the one antecedent most overlooked – the intentional development of a Human Capital strategy.
Busyness replaced by acumen; the hamster wheel replaced by a runway to the future.