There is a difference!
For some time recruitment advertisements which invite applications from those who want to make a difference have unsettled me. Something didn't fit well, particularly in placements for employment in the public service.
It is only in recent times that it has registered that just showing up for work can and does make a difference. Appearance at the work place alone can be the difference between needing to, or not needing to, seek temporary or casual employees, the reassignment of tasks and the rescheduling of projects and time limits.
Sadly, too many people are in reality, paid appearance money to make a difference, albeit insignificantly small.
Daring to be different is an entirely different proposition. Actual, perceived and imagined parameters, boundaries and barriers can be and often should be shattered, to make a real difference.
Compliance and conformity are phrases often uttered and are concepts that are repeatedly applied by accountants, lawyers and engineers. Some aspects of life, business and society demand compliance and conformity for cohesion and unity. However, progress, development and innovation dictate adherence to the underlying philosophy of “daring to be different”.
Optimal performance is the reality for those who transcend from asking the questions “what?” to take the quantum leap to pose “why?” and, more importantly, “why not?”.
Since the onset of the global financial crisis during 2008 centralised decision making by Boards of Directors and senior management cabals has limited the scope and inclination for other line managers to make meaningful decisions.
Risk has been removed from most corporate lexicons.
Top-down decision making is typically unidirectional. It does not encourage participation or feedback.
Business owners and managers who tell subordinates what decisions have been made limit, if not deny, the advantages and benefits of the differing perceptions of staff and their invaluable insights on clients and customers needs, desires, aspirations and expressions.
Discussions in such instances tend to be an imparting of what must be done. It can promote conformity, compliance and uniformity. Efficiency can improve.
There is a better way.
Creative and innovative leaders are utilising the current testing times to promote, encourage, endorse and support input for all team members. The subtle art of asking questions provides the promise and reality of numerous rewards, not the least of which are commitments from and the motivations of staff members. For example:-
“Why” do we do things this way?
“Why not” try something different?
The proposition may be simplistic or perhaps, naïve.
Consider this point. Each year countless millions of dollars are spent by entities, under authority of senior management teams, to retain external market research practices to conduct research. The skills set of these professionals does not extend to providing answers. In reality, their expertise and experience is contained to being able to ask questions.
It is the respondents who provide the answers, and with them the insights, perceptions and intelligence for managers to make decisions. Therefore, why is it not possible or desirable for managers to ask fundamental questions centred on “why?” and “why not?” to those team members who most interact with, service and satisfy existing, prospective, lost and past clients?
Indeed, it is possible to convert a questions into a challenge. For example, “why?”
and “why not?” can be readily refined to “why can't we?”. That will make a difference!
Be assured, the outcomes of facilitating interactive business development workshops with accountants, pharmacists, engineers, wholesalers, financial planners, bankers, radio station executives and manufacturers underscore the widespread presence of unrecognised, unrealised and unfulfilled creative thoughts of team members who could, would, will and have contributed, if only they were asked.
Two great starting points to embrace and try out the “questioning” philosophy are:
• Customer/Client Bases
Both aspects of business can be and often are costly, non productive burdens on private and public sector entities.
Stock items and clients (suspects and objects!!!) which are unwanted, obsolete and irrelevant consume time, money and resources with little or no economic returns.
The proposition: “Why can't we” dispose of, sell or pass-on inventory and client listings can and often does re-energise staff members, processes and the buying patterns of clients and customers.
Any such assertive action requires objectivity and detachment. There is little or no scope available for emotions, sentiment or nostalgia. Each of those can be found in abundance in movie theatres and within faltering trading groups.
One final principle that should be recognised, respected and adhered to is:-
Don't Shoot Short
Be radical. Current circumstances demand nothing less.
Oh, and one final thing….
Dare to be different.