Monday, October 24, 2011

Diagnostics and Strategy: getting from Here to There

Going from Here to There: using Diagnostics, Facilitation, and Coaching to lay out your roadmap.

As I walked in this morning, I saw a large horse fly resting on the sidewalk. Huge, not particularly attractive: it couldn’t possibly fly. When She (sic!) created flying creatures, people asked what God had been thinking to design the horse fly or the bumblebee. After all we know that God has a grand design and all creation fits into the plan according to Her design. In truth, however, God’s design of bumblebees and horse flies has come under question for centuries. As in: what was She thinking? Or, nothing designed that way can fly. Yet, we know that both creatures do fly and do so well. What works so easily for God does not work as well for humans when it comes to successful planning on how to get to there from here.

Getting from here-to-there is always on everybody’s minds; and, getting from here-to- there is always already a clearly visible destination. Truth is, however: often we get lost on the way. [And, no! I really do not just mean driving directions]. I’m thinking more along the lines of the transformation the US now faces as the Tea Party tries to hold the nation hostage and take its citizens back to the 1787-9 period; or, a lot more simple to solve, how to transform a business into a customer-centered, customer-based business.
The challenges are so immense as to risk hyperbole. The missteps made happen so frequently and predictably that there must be a better way.

We no longer can afford missteps in today’s hyper-competitive, always-on, flat world. No, what we need is a way to assure breakthrough performance and to assure creation of a roadmap that outlines our best chance to arrive at the destination, the desired end-state.
And it really is quite simple to effect best-planning and execution of these crucial transformations. The keys are diagnostics, facilitation, and coaching.

Plans, lucid, readable and comprehensible roadmaps are important, nay vital to success: whether it is a “simple” exercise, such as taking your family of 5 to [you fill-in-the-blanks] for a mini-summer vacation, or (more) complex such as planning for your 24 year old daughter’s dream wedding, or compound-complex as in establishing your firm’s new customer centered and customer focused strategy. (Thinking of plans as a type of sentence construction may be a helpful metaphor).

Distractions, unanticipated events, setbacks, life: all these “things” happen and so our best laid plans somehow end up producing horse flies rather than hummingbirds. Problem is our horse flies don’t fly. Our “success” at planning, unfortunately, does not translate into successful implementation and operational effectiveness.

And, so what?! What now? How can your B2B CRM & CEM strategy be implemented successfully, without a hitch? How do we plan for life to happen and keep on the path. As I began to write this paragraph these 2 phrases surfaced: “Seek first to understand.” “Start with the end in mind.” And, yes, both pieces of advice are apropos of this discussion. Do they give a way to find planning and implementation success? I think they do. And, I think they do because they un-conceal what has been hidden or that which may distract.

What is needed is diagnostics, facilitation, and coaching. The process will clearly define 3 critical areas: 1. Where you are starting from: the point of departure or your “Current State”; 2., Where you intend to end up: your destination or “Desired End-State”; and, 3., the stuff that has to be done, accomplished, solved, etc. so that you can, in fact, get from here to there: “the bridging tasks”.

Unterwegs zu…

Blink or Think: Be Here now

Be Here Now: Blink or Think

A decade ago, while still consulting heavily, I entered the office of the President of a Billion $ business. The brass-plated desk-ornament in the middle of his desk gave one simple admonition: “Be Here Now!” This leader wanted everyone to be present. When I ask myself or you “Was heisst Denken?” I am, to begin with, asking myself to be here now, to be present. I am asking myself, and I am asking each of you as well, to locate that way, that path on the way to; and, to be here now, to be present and accounted for.

Our current situation is one that calls for thinking; it is one that calls for each of us to be fully present, to be engaged to be here now. If we believe Thomas Friedman’s presentation in That Used to be Us, we are a divided nation in decline, one that has brought itself to this precipitous predicament. We have failed our country, our citizen, our nation’s children - our own gift to the future - in that we have failed to invest in our future. We see it now in our dearth, in our unemployment; in our inability to generate meaningful, fully engaging work; in the homeless, the under-employed. We see it in this State’s decision to cut back on education; its decision not to invest in much-needed infrastructure and renewal efforts; in our ever-widening gap between those who have and those who have not. Rather than attend to the now, we turn away. We choose not to attend to what calls for thinking; instead we blink and we turn away.

It is not unexpected that we blink; that we turn our backs on what calls for thinking; that we turn back to our comfortable lives; turn on the Tube, and plug in un-thinkingly to what Thomas Pynchon referred to as “mindless pleasure”. In fact, a highly popular “pundit”, Malcolm Gladwell incites us to blink. His book Blink: the power of thinking without thinking admonishes us to “blink – don’t think”.

Whereas by contrast, in his 5th lecture, Heidegger begins: “What is called thinking? We must guard against the blind urge to snatch at a quick answer in the form of a formula. We must stay with the question. We must pay attention to the way in which the question asks: what is called thinking, what does call for thinking?” Our present now calls for thinking. We turn away, however. We blink.

“What does that mean? Blink is related to Middle English blenchen, which means deceive, and to blenken, blinken, which means gleam or glitter. To blink – that means to play up and set up a glittering deception which is then agreed upon as true and valid –with the mutual tacit understanding not to question…”(lecture VII).

While I see many of us trying to solve the issues of today, I see equal or greater numbers who turn away. Regardless of party affiliation, we no longer can turn away. We cannot, however, solve any of the current problems by blind adherence to party lines. Nor can we solve today’s issues neither through rancorous argument nor partisan paralysis. We cannot take Gladstone’s advice and decide what is important based on 2 seconds of ephemerality and what we knew to be true in that present-now, now long past. We must be present; we must be here now. We must understand and act knowing that “what is most thought-provoking in our thought-provoking age is that we are still not thinking.” We need to, we can and we must, get underway, unterwegs zu.