“Farmers do not ask,” writes Mette Norgaard Ph.D, MBA, “which is most important, preparing the soil or selecting and growing the best seeds? Likewise, we should not ask whether we ought to focus on changing the systems and structures or developing the people.”
This coming fall more and more people will be struggling with soil vs. seeds issues. They know they need to change certain systems and structure. They also know they need to develop people in order to have more capacity. However, many executives are reluctant to do either because of the amount of time, resources and energy it will take to do it and to do it well.
While some organizations are suffering from reorganization fatigue, others have come to the same conclusion as John C. Maxwell in his book,, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow them and People Will Follow You, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1998, when he wrote: “The Law of the Lid: Leadership ability determines a person's level of effectiveness.” Certain organizational charts will never position the organization for growth because they do not have the right people in the right leadership positions. Certain organizations also will not deal with this issue because they do not have the courage to face problems of their own making. It is always easier to blame the economy or the government rather than take responsibility for our own strategic choices.
From my vantage point, this level of work means that we as leaders must recognize that real change requires depth of character and competence. The difficulty is that few leaders have received significant coaching and education to improve the depth of their competence. As Stephen Covey wrote many years ago, “Organizational development and change, without personal development and change, is illusionary, even foolish, because market realities are demanding new qualities inside people and new relationships among people.” Well organized ninety day plans, regular coaching and a steady diet of organizational clarity does not sound flashy, hot-off-the-presses, New York Times best-seller list, latest and greatest new management book stuff, but in the test of time we need to remember that the infrastructure for success is as important as the content for success.
This fall, I encourage all of us to spend more time preparing the soil and selecting the seed. Then when it comes time for change, we can all remember: what you feed, grows.