Organizational Excellence

People and Process Improvement

Archive for April 2012

One Pebble, One Pond

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 I’d love to change the world, but I don’t know what to do…

So I’ll leave it up to you. (Ten Years After, 1971)

1971 was at the tail end of the most socially conscious decade in American history. A great many movements and world-changers. I’d Love to Change the World lamented the state of society, and a perceived helplessness to do anything about it.

The “Occupy Anything Anywhere” movement 40 years later is nothing new. We used to call them “sit-ins” back in the day…right on.

Sit-ins, demonstrations and unauthorized occupations are not the only way to effect change, and possibly not even the most effective. What happens after the tribe disbands, and the event and press coverage go away? Change is more than an event. South American social guerilla / change agent Che Guevara knew it. He maintained that the only way to achieve lasting change is through controlling the education and communications systems–what people learn and what is continuously reinforced.

For those of us who are not radical wearers of Che beanies seeking to overthrow governments, for those who can’t take months off work to camp out in a public park to make our statement, we still have a huge impact opportunity in front of us.

It starts with one pebble, one pond — with me and my circles of influence. The tiny ripples from my single pebble eventually overlap and join with others, until the smooth pond surface is in constant motion, unrecognizable compared to the mirror surface it once was.

If nothing happens over time, the pond surface will revert back to what it was.

Nothing lasts without continued effort and focus on what must be accomplished. We need more pebbles and more people dropping them. One pebble, one pond.

Circles of Influence, Meet Chain of Command

Influence is the unofficial authority a person of credibility has, and it has impacts that reach way beyond positional power. People comply to the orders of a position, they commit to follow a person of influence. Big difference!

This is not a denouncement of chain of command, it’s an endorsement of influence. A positioned person needs influence to be an effective leader of people; without influence that person is just a manager of things. Credibility feeds influence, which feeds things getting done. So if credibility is the trigger, how do you ‘do’ it?

People earn credibility, and a company or organization does as well. Both earn credibility when they consistently deliver results with integrity…

with integrity?!

Credibility and integrity are almost interchangeable. One certainly enhances the other. The difference: while credibility has to do with how well you do things, integrity comes into play with how you behave while you’re doing those things.

You can have one without the other:

John is the go-to guy for this kind of project. He can do it in half the time and get amazing results. But watch out…his “get it done whatever the cost” approach has left broken people in his wake more than once. But that’s the price you pay for tapping his expertise. Ouch.

Mary is the consummate team player. She’s great to be around, and you can always count on her to be there and do what you ask of her. But she has a hard time taking the initiative to move forward on her own without approval. It’s really tough to find something of importance that you can be sure she is able to do without guidance, and you need low maintenance self-starters to get this project done. Ouch again.

What we really need is John and Mary in one package. But if you could only have one which is more critical—credibility or integrity?

Written by Craig

April 11, 2012 at 7:55 am