Monday, August 1, 2011

In The Age Of Uncertainty

We live now in a time period of complexity and uncertainty. Every where non-profits are battling over what little money is available at the state and federal levels. Meanwhile, for-profit companies are wanting to excel and to grow profits, but are extremely reluctant to hire more staff. Furthermore, customers are deeply frustrated with the lack of real customer service, And, of course, your competition is "hungry" for the opportunity to serve your customers where ever and when ever possible.

From my vantage point, some organizations are spending countless hours rearranging the deck chairs on a ship to no where as they attempt to solve these adaptive problems. They do this by continuing to consolidate out-dated systems hoping that this will result in some degree of innovation or efficiency. This is happening because of limited balance sheet growth and a desire to avoid the risks that come with completely pitching and redesigning entire systems to meet the new expectations and options for service delivery.

Next, I continue to witness new technology at the hardware and software levels out-pacing management’s capacity to comprehend their implications, let alone figure out how to integrate these opportunities. In Board rooms and during senior team meetings, it also is common to hear people talk about the continued need to centralize key systems and functions within the company as well as create more efficiency though systems improvement

As to balance sheet management, heaven only knows when the funding streams that government and non-profit agencies count on will be stable. I am certain that they will continue to be in massive flux for quite some time period as witnessed by what is happening related to the raising of the debt ceiling at the federal level. Meanwhile, leaders must continue to figure out how to remain profitable in the midst of these difficulties.

Finally, we must come to peace with the notion that fragmented service delivery will not be tolerated by customers or employees. Developing a unique and meaningful business relationship with customers where they and the staff are engaged is going to require us to finally put to rest top-down, command-and-control leadership. This model of “Father Knows Best” leadership can not handle disruptive and ceaseless innovation that is required nor the transformative power of information technology and communications.

As we move through this time period of complexity and uncertainty, I am reminded of Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Right now too many senior management teams are living an in-box management perspective with little proactive planning. They are reacting to behavioral problems related to operational issues rather than developing a strategic mindset. Clearly, it is time for more people and companies to rediscover or to develop a new vision, i.e. a statement of what they hope to achieve as an organization. These new or renewed visions will give direction and meaning to the journey ahead. They will create inspiration that is necessary for on-going follow through. They will create clarity rather than persistent confusion. In short, it is time for us as leaders to re-inspire, reorient and realign our organizations. It is time to focus forward.

Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257

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