Develop Ambitions Greater than Means
The limits you create will be real to you until you learn to step beyond them. Then, you will look back at the reality you used to inhabit, wondering how you were able to stand its narrow confines. —Paul Ferrini, Author and spiritual teacher
Companies looking to engage in perpetual transformational opportunities are most successful when they set their ambitions much higher than their means. As people participate in the vision, energy is released that inspires innovative ways for reaching the goal.
People who feel passionate about the vision step up to be leaders. Others wait until the goal seems more tenable before they engage. A few resist and may add to the instability. However, if handled skillfully, the contrasting tensions can assist the transformation.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that companies that do not stretch their vision will be surpassed by the competition. These actions can assist companies to stretch their vision and prepare people for perpetual transformation:
- Express a vision or strategic intent to members of the organization that leads to breakthrough thinking and action. By allowing the participants to embrace a grand vision, leaders naturally align themselves and move beyond what was once considered impossible.
- Disperse control. The complexity of a major shift in vision requires top leadership to disperse control. By sharing the vision and empowering the participants, the idea takes on an energy of its own. The role of leadership is to continually share the vision, provide support, and celebrate accomplishments.
- Stay focused and harness energy. In large, complex organizations, many transformative processes may be happening at the same time. The key to success is to stay focused and harness the energy created by the overall goal. A simple rallying cry, slogan, or watchword is helpful to thread the varying activities and maintain high spirits.
- Discuss change and introduce points of inflection. Introducing a new vision when most members of an organization are satisfied with the status quo may prove to be futile. Most organizations are more susceptible to major shifts in focus during times of crisis. Starting a conversation about what might happen if the market shifts drastically can begin to prepare members for change. Introducing an artificial point of inflection is another option for stimulating receptivity.
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[i] Christopher Laszlo and Jean-François Laugel, Large-Scale Organizational Change (Boston: Butterworth Heinemann, 2000), 79.