Thursday, March 4, 2010

If You Don’t Know Where You Are Going …

… any road will take you there.

So Lewis Carroll wrote in Through the Looking Glass.

Many know him as an enlightened author but I wonder if he was in fact, a brilliant strategist.

To support my theory, I offer this snippet from a recent dialogue I had with a Canadian politician.

Me: “What do you think needs to be done to get the Canadian economy back on track?”

Politician: “The zauberflot will align perfectly when we coalesce the galactic framazam with the streamazoid”.

Me: “I see – but what does that really mean in terms of the things that need to be done to accomplish this.”

Politician: “As I said, the key is extrapolating the necessary nanoids from the mimsy while factoring in self-incubating neutrinos”.

Me: “That doesn’t answer my question about what needs to be done to actually accomplish this.”

Politician: “Confused you are, my youngling.  The day will come when enlightened you are, like me.”

What was really said

Of course the politician didn’t say that.  Here is what was really said.

Me: “What do you think needs to be done to get the Canadian economy back on track?”

Politician: “Clearly jobs are important and the economy will be fixed when we create more jobs”.

Me: “I see – but what does that really mean in terms of the things that need to be done to accomplish this.”

Politician: “As I said, the key is creating more jobs”.

Me: “That doesn’t answer my question about what needs to be done to actually accomplish this.”

Politician: “I don’t know why – it all seems pretty straight forward to me”.

Not to leave US politicians out, I took this to a high ranking member of one of the two dominant parties in the US and laughingly said “Can you believe this is their answer?”

Her response: “I think their plan looks very complete to me.  What parts of it do you not understand?”

When I pressed that perhaps a little strategy, tactical planning, measurable milestones or measurable outcomes would be useful to get us from where we are to the desired end-state, her brain deactivated for its daily recharge.

Not Everything is Measurable

Many things in life are not measurable and there isn’t a magical, guaranteed plan that, when put into play, guarantees a successful outcome every time.

That being said, if I want to win a hockey game, I don’t show up with a baseball bat.

Unless, of course, my intention is to beat the other team with the bat until they capitulate and when they all put up their hands and say “enough”, I can smile and say “Looks like another victory for the good guys”.  When someone exclaims “but that is not how we play hockey”, I hold up the bat and smile, causing the protest to die down quickly.  I’ve just changed the rules forever.

Big business and big government are too big and complex to finesse and tip toe their way through the difficulties of life and we have regulations that prevent them from brute-forcing their way through many things.

However, let’s not use this as an excuse to avoid attempting to be somewhat intelligent about what we are doing instead of just randomly trying “stuff” belligerently or subtly. 

Let’s also hold people accountable when we observe them driving their own personal agenda under the guise of solving our problems.

Many paths that we choose (or allow others to choose on our behalf) are benign and when we realize we are on the wrong path, we can retrace our steps and choose a better one.  Hopefully we are better for the experience anyway, we reason.

However, many paths are VERY long, VERY expensive to travel and many have road mines that when tripped, impact our ability to continue down ANY path.

A Better Way

Isn’t it better to take some time to stop, look at the landscape and explore the territory before venturing out?  I know people want to be first in proving that they have the answer and this inflicts them with an embarrassing case of premature-execution.

However, there seems to be a great need to return to respectful dialog using all the information at our disposal.

We loudly trumpet how we have more information now than ever.

That’s wonderful.  However, it is only truly valuable when it is used.

The choices we make as a result of sharper, focused dialogue and enhanced accountability may not guarantee the desired result, but it will give us a better chance of avoiding the stuff that sets us back further and further.

Or do we prefer to do as one senior person in a well known Fortune 25 company that I worked with once told me when I expressed concern that he wasn’t making his numbers:

I don’t have time to be strategic – I just need to make money.

By the way, he missed his mark totally and then got promoted so that he could amplify his results.

The economic, corporate, societal and ecological states of the world do not have much room left for continued random execution with the hope of accidentally finding something that works.

We don’t have much room for turning a blind eye towards personal agendas either.

We need to encourage people to be more responsible and accountable about how they choose the road that they travel.  Remember that we all travel these roads together.  The road they choose is the one that we end up on.

Do you think we are travelling down the best road?

How do you know?

What are you going to do about it?

In service and servanthood.

Harry

To see my Musings-in-a-Minute version of “If You Don’t Know Where You Are Going …” please click here.

2 comments: