I read this recent article by Johanne Lavoie and Jens Riese at McKinsey that really resonated with me. In fact, I imagine leaders at all levels can relate to these 5 practices as they experience unprecedented challenges and periods of significant change. Often I advise my clients to “slow down in order to speed up”, so I’m particularly partial to the #1 on the list.
- Pause to move faster. Pausing while remaining engaged in action is a counterintuitive step that leaders can use to create space for clear judgment; original thinking; and speedy, purposeful action.
- Embrace your ignorance. Good, fresh ideas can come from anywhere; competitors can emerge from neighboring industries; and a single technology product can reshape your business. In such a world, listening—and thinking—from a place of not knowing is a critical means of encouraging the discovery of original, unexpected, breakthrough ideas.
- Radically reframe the questions. One way to discern the complex patterns that give rise to both problems and windows of emergent possibilities is to change the nature of the questions we ask ourselves. Asking yourself challenging questions may help unblock your existing mental model.
- Set direction, not destination. In our complex systems and in this complex era, solutions are rarely straightforward. Instead of telling your team to move from point A to point B, join them in a journey toward an image of the future that sparks inspiration. Lead yourself and your team with purposeful vision, not just achievements. Instead of asking “What will we achieve?” ask “How will we know that we are being successful… beyond targets and metrics?”
- Test your solutions – and yourself. Quick, cheap failures can avert major, costly disasters. This fundamental Silicon Valley tenet is as true for you as it is for your company. Thinking of yourself as a living laboratory helps make the task of leading an agile, ever-shifting company exciting instead of terrifying.