Monday, March 22, 2010

Organizational ADD

THEME: New Year, More Challenges

FOCUS: Organizational ADD

Monday morning: March 22, 2010

Dear friends,

It is time to prescribe Ritalin to certain organizations as there has been a rise of ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) among many companies and many senior teams. With a complete loss of impulse control, these companies are charging off in a thousand directions and hoping one of them is the right one. Furthermore, with this lack of strategic awareness and focus, they react to every crisis of the moment, missing key information and analysis that could solve these recurring patterns. Finally, they show regular patterns of corporate anxiety or depression. Using an old term, they are “freaked out” by all that is happening. While there are days when even the best of us can feel overwhelmed by the challenges of this current economy, this is not a time for senior executives to be easily distracted or impatient. Instead, we need to have laser focus about a few very important things.

First, now is the time to redefine priorities.

Doing a thousand things poorly does not allow an organization to be productive. Clarity creates the capacity to organize and pay attention to the right stuff. The key is to sit down and figure out what is the right stuff for your organization. When we do not make the time for this level of activity, we enter into a continual cycle of hyperactivity.

Second, we must remember that organizational ADHD is, in part, a reflection of the work place environment.

If leaders create a panic focused work environment where busy is more important than successful, then everyone will just keep moving to avoid being marked as the source of all problems. Instead, we need leaders who clarify expectations and make sure their people have the capacity, i.e. skills and equipment, in order to be successful.

Third, we need to change the diet of all employees.

Rather than feeding them fear, anxiety and so much work they are inundated with more to do than any reasonable or healthy person can ever get done, leaders need to notice that even in the midst of this madding pace of work and change things are getting done. Customers are being served and many are actually being served quite well. Remember: “what you feed, grows.” Now is the time to praise employees for progress. Furthermore, regular encouragement, compassion and kindness are also helpful.

The old adage that “everyone in the company is drinking the Kool-aid” would be helpful if it had a touch of Ritilan. However, given that many companies are merely a reflection of the clarity and behavior at the senior team level, then now is the time to rinse our glasses and start anew. Successful companies always have, and always will need to deal with disturbing data or significant problems. Stuff happens when any group of people come together to make something happen. Rather than freaking out if it is not perfect and then running all over the place, successful people and companies instead routinely pause and regain their sense of balance and perspective. As I regularly tell clients during executive coaching sessions, the faster you go the more you need to regularly slow down and check your direction.

This week, move from being an ADHD oriented organization to a healthier place to work. Redefine priorities, praise progress, and clarify direction. It is much better to do this than pour Ritilan in the morning coffee.

Have an outstanding week,


Geery Howe, M.A.
Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer in
Leadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational Change

Morning Star Associates
319 - 643 - 2257

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