Many of us have fond memories of past eras, either those that we experienced first hand or those we fantasize about through books and movies. In our minds eye those past eras are often best envisioned through the technology of the times. Each era represents a forward movement in technology- be it in agriculture, transportation, war or production. We have become incrementally better at mastering the land, the sea and the skies. And who knows what will be next- the universe, the center of the earth, nano-worlds or other dimensions yet to be discovered? The point is that as we evolve, we explore different dimensions and define our worlds through different lenses.
In the nineteenth century communication was via telegraph and performances could only be heard and seen live. By the early twentieth century we had telephones and radio, silent movies and phonographs. By the mid-twentieth century we had black and white television, soon to morph into color television. Now we have 3D television and movies, the internet and streaming. Soon it will be virtual reality and if Kurzweil’s vision is true, The Singularity.
Leading and managing organizations is an art older than any of those discussed above. And in some ways the tools used to help do that have evolved through technology- typewriters to word processors to computers; telex to fax to e-mail; telegraph to telephone to VOIP. But these are only tools. There is an old saying that “it is not the saw, but the carpenter.” With all of the tools available to leaders, it still comes down to the leaders.
Leaders can use old thinking, the tried and true methodologies of the past, and hope for success. The world is changing faster than it ever has. The most important jobs of ten years from now have not even been discovered yet. So, how can we rely on leadership styles taught in school years ago?
Leaders have to be current, they have to be agile and they have to be innovative to keep up with all that is happening around them. They have to be wise enough to view their operations through a number of lenses, look at the business in very thin slices, to really understand what is going on. The technology is there to help do that. The mindset has to be there to apply the technology. In 720thinking we constantly make reference to the telescope, the microscope, the periscope and the kaleidoscope, all tools to be employed to view a business in a different dimension.
Think how the world changed for people just when television went from black and white to color. Everything became more vivid, more real, more clear. Look at what HD did to further enhance that. Think about viewing your business differently- going from a black and white, rather flat, superficial view to an HD picture, seeing things you never saw before. Have the courage to see what is there to be seen.
This is not to be done for entertainment purposes, although what you will see will be exciting because it will be new. It needs to be done to be on the cutting edge, to have real understanding of what is going on and what needs to be done to be more responsive to customers and to the market; to be more supportive of and accountable to employees and stakeholders.
Every business has texture and dimensionality. It is not a flat drawing on a piece of paper. It needs to be viewed in many different ways in order to fully comprehend it. No one tool has the answer. It takes a holistic approach, using a variety of lenses to truly grasp what is there, what is missing and what needs to be done to create excellence. Don’t waste time on old methods when we exist in a new world. Get with the future and embrace a multi-dimensional approach to business leadership. 720thinking is such an approach, with a methodology proven to give leaders the valuable insights they need to successfully take their organization to sustainability.
Remember the Wizard of Oz? Nobody ever saw the actual wizard- at least until Dorothy came along. Hidden behind the curtain, he was able to command from a safe and secure position, without exposing himself to scrutiny and doubt. He used his perceived power and presence to compel fear and awe. It is one way to “rule” your followers, but how well does it really work? Doesn’t it put you in the position of always fearing the arrival of a Dorothy-someone who will pull back the curtain and reveal who you really are? And what will happen then?
Strong leaders do not need to foster a “larger than life persona” that inhibits employees and customers from approaching them. To the contrary they stay in touch with those stakeholders and help them achieve success.
A recent transaction reinforced the above lesson. I placed an order online with a new company, knowing that it was the beginning of the holiday season craziness, and opted for 48 hour delivery. One week later, no product had arrived. Now the real adventure begins, trying to track the product. A call to the customer service desk resulted in being on hold for more than one hour. Instant messaging and emails were added to the mix and didn’t generate any better response. Welcome to cyber Monday.
As things continue into the second day of tracking, the need for the product has become more acute. So its pursuit has captured my full attention. A further call to the customer service line results in another long spell on hold. This time, I am not willing to hold for an hour. I continue to scan the website, and to my surprise, there is a corporate telephone number, which I proceeded to call. Lo and behold a live person answers. But after listening to my situation, she quickly transfers me to the customer service line. Guess what? I’m on hold again.
Now, I know to call back immediately and the receptionist answers again. This time, I quickly explain that that method doesn’t work. I continue that I really need the product. If they are not able to fulfill the order, I will need to be refunded my money and I will order the product elsewhere. Now, I have her full attention. She is really listening and she also shares that they have been experiencing a large volume of business and are having some problems.
Usually, that response is not acceptable. The vendor should be set up to handle the volume and it shouldn’t become the customer’s issue. But, then additional information changes my mindset. I learn that the company is located in an area that was greatly impacted by Hurricane Sandy and their normal systems have been damaged..
The receptionist asks for my information and says I will get a call back within the hour. “I will walk your request back to the department and we will get this problem resolved,” she assures me. Within 30 minutes, a call comes from the department. This person is equally service oriented. She apologizes and goes on to explain that Hurricane Sandy has greatly impacted their phone and internet capabilities. She is going to do what it takes and overnight the order.
The very next day, I received the order. I became what I wasn’t before- very satisfied customer!!!
This whole situation, with its ups and downs, caused me to do some 720thinking. Using a different lens by setting aside my initial frustration and anger, I actually found that this company did care about their customers. They provided easy access to the corporate office by placing the telephone number on the website. This company didn’t use the wizard behind the curtain approach – untouchable and unapproachable. Granted, I didn’t talk to the CEO or President that day. But I did get access to the executives that I needed- CCOs – the Chief Customer Officers.
The company – Motherhood.com. Isn’t it better to have a testimonial rather than a complaint on the internet?
If 720thinking is a holistic methodology that addresses both organizational and individual challenges, then it follows that there should be a 720thinking or what we will call a 720t type of leader. Such an individual would be expert in the application of the methodology and would incorporate it in leading a business organization.
There are hundreds of books and thousands of articles written on leadership and leaders. None of them have the ONE way of looking at leadership. There are dozens of leadership competencies and they are prioritized differently by different organizations. There are authors and organizations that have identified leadership with US Presidents, military leaders from around the world, explorers, poets and servants. We have looked at sports figures and team managers and coaches, corporate titans, saints and probably sinners. The bottom line is that we define leadership according to our own standards.
That being said, we are defining 720t leadership via 720thinking. A 720t leader:
Remember- 720thinking is multi-dimensional. It is the MRI of methodologies, looking at thin slices of the organization and the individuals within it, locating strengths and opportunities for improvement in places where others do not look. 720thinking requires a leader to use all of the lenses available:
The microscope, the telescope, the periscope and the kaleidoscope are all tools that a smart leader needs to employ to discover, to renew, to refresh and to build a strong, aligned, culturally strong organization. Hanging around on the surface of the organization, seeing what shows up there is a form of neglect. Results are achieved at all levels and they all add up, they all count.
Leaders have to be aware of the obstacles that can get in their way, some of them self imposed. 720t leaders need to make smart decisions, employing critical thinking. They have to look at what attitudes impact their decisions and where they may be damaging. They have to understand who and what sucks up their energy unnecessarily and do something about it.
Leaders need to use their time wisely. They have much important work to do- in the organization and on the organization. There are people and events they have to influence to keep the organization moving forward. And remember- leadership is not a job or even part of a job description for many. It is a calling and it is reflective of a desire to grow as a person and help an organization achieve its vision, its potential.
Being a 720t leader means taking leadership seriously.
Fred De Witt Van Amburgh
Thanksgiving is a family holiday- time out from business and work for most of us. Even if business challenges feel insurmountable, dollars tight, regulations and restrictions overwhelming,Thanksgiving can still afford the chance to shift our thoughts and actions in a different direction, toward something more positive and powerful. No matter how tough things may get, we all have reasons to be thankful and taking the time to appreciate them, is important. Consider treating Thanksgiving as an annual opportunity to show appreciation to loyal customers, valued partners, colleagues, employees, employers and trusted vendors.
Melody Beattie, author of Co-dependency No More, writes of gratitude:
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.”
What better way to close out 2012 and set the stage for a great 2013 – expressing gratitude doesn’t have to be done with extravagant gifts, over the top gestures. Instead, quietly expressing a heartfelt “Thank You,” often goes so much further, The more specific the thank you the better.
Here are some examples
Thank you for:
Want to meet business objectives more consistently? There is much to be thankful for, not just once a year, but all year round. Want customers to appreciate you? Share your appreciation of them.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
There is a distinct difference between doing your brand and being your brand. Businesses and leaders are famous for doing brand. By doing brand, the marketing material has the “right” words, the employees have the “right” message and the office/business space has the “right” look. Unfortunately, doing brand is not necessarily being the brand.
“A brand that captures your mind gains attention . A brand that captures your heart gains commitment.”
1. Be your vision.
“Vision looks inward and becomes duty. Vision looks outward and becomes aspiration. Vision looks upward and becomes faith.”
Stephen S. Wise
Dream, discover and dare all the odds, not just describe, but to dramatize a vision that captures the heart and passions of your employees and offers products and/or services that your clients just can’t live without. With every breath, BE your vision.
2. Be your values.
“Well done is better than well said.”
All too often, there is a great deal of talk about what we do and offer. The greatest demonstration of being your brand is to be true to your personal and professional values. BE respect, honesty, integrity, courage, accountable and any other values that cause your employees, stakeholders and customers to absolutely know that they must hold up their end of the bargain and BE in business with you.
3. Be leadership.
“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.”
Influence, infect, infuse ideas and beliefs that leave a lasting impression, an almost desperate commitment to loyalty and long lasting relationships. That way, when times are tough and no one is watching everyone has bought into their leadership responsibility to BE the brand.
4. Be your culture.
“Culture is a framework in which we communicate.”
Building a fundamental foundation, a culture that encourages every strategy, every objective, every goal and every action to be infused in every conversation, every standard, every desire for collaboration, contribution and connectivity, now that is to BE your brand.