The Art of Progress is the Preserve Order amid Change and Preserve Change amid Order"

This quote by Alfred North Whitehead symbolizes the leadership challenge faced by businesses of all sizes and industries in today's competitive economic landscape. The implication in this quote is the balance required maintaining some measure of order in business organizations and plans while at the same time identify and execute change strategies in order to achieve real progress. My experience suggests many businesses are doing one aspect of this process well but struggling to do the other and/or both to full effectiveness.

So how does today's leader manage order and change simultaneously? The answer lies in the business Strategy. Simply stated, your business or organizational strategy dictates how your business or organization competes in its industry and markets. Having created strategies in businesses from large corporations to small entrepreneurial, mature and start-up, for-profit and non-profit, I find this definition of strategy to hold true universally. The strategy is a by-product of the leader(s) taking an objective and in-depth look at their external environment in order to create the Vision I spoke of last month. It also holds the results of an unbiased view of the business or organization's internal capabilities identified through a detailed SWOT (Strengths, Opportunities, Weaknesses and Threats) process or similar assessment process. What the Strategy looks like in the practical sense is a series of goal categories (also referred to as strategic objectives) determined to be critical to the business in a competitive environment.

It is not enough to just have a strategy as a stand-alone document. It must also link both the business goals and the vision of the business to be effective in the context of creating real progress. Linking the strategy to business goals is accomplished through the creation of specific goals from each of the critical goal categories identified in the strategy. This alignment typically represents managing "order amid change" in the opening quote. Just as important is the linkage of the strategy to the vision of the business. This alignment ensures the critical goal categories are relevant to the overall direction of the business and/or organization. If you cannot articulate clear alignment between current strategic objectives and the direction your business is going, the competitive markets will take the business where they want it to go. In essence, without direction (read: control), any road will look like a valid one! This represents the managing "change amid order" element of the opening quote.

Organizational movement can just happen and be confused for progress. Real progress requires a strategy that is both linked to the vision and the specific goals of the business to be effective. Last month I spoke of two types of leaders during times of challenge and change. The first are those who are busy managing order. The second types are creating real progress!

Lead Well

Rick Lochner

Reality-Based Leadership
The E-Myth Revisited
 

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Saturday, 27 November 2021