Refresh and Renew

The Malecon 2000 (above) is an amazing sight. A completely redesigned, vibrant place to which travelers from the world over come to walk, shop, mingle and be seen. Located in Guayaquil Ecuador this riverside boardwalk has become the country’s safest, most frequented site for both tourists and locals. However, this was not always the case. Like so many Urban Renewal Projects, the riverfront was transformed because someone had a vision of what it could be. For years, the crime rose, the building became dilapidated, and finally, someone said “Enough!” Because someone had the vision, people were mobilized and monies generated.

As a leader, when was the last time you looked at your organization with eyes from the outside.

When was the last time you asked yourself:

• How does my organization look to the outsider?

• What do others see that I do not see?

• When will I finally say “Enough!?”

First impressions rule the day and the sad truth is that many of us have lost individuals because of that first impression. Whether it be something as small as a product or as large as an organization, you have a very small window of time to leave your mark.

It has been said that any prospect makes their decision in the first minute of the encounter and the remainder of that precious time justifying why, or why not, your product or service is for them.

If necessary, bring an outsider in and allow him or her to speak frankly to your deficiencies. Eyes from the outside can see things that you never will. They can tell you what you don’t know.

If your organization is to be all that it can be, always remember to “Refresh and Renew.”

I have two videos related to this subject.

“First Impressions Rule” is for Church Planters about their first impression.

“Refresh and Renew” is for Organizational Leaders filmed on location at the Malecon 2000

A Higher View

Work “on” the system, not “in” the system.

The role of leader requires a certain way of thinking about everyday tasks. You may need to shift. Consider how you can step back from the to-do list and oversee the progress of your organization as a system to be managed. We struggle with so many things to do that it is easy to throw our hands in the air and give up. However, with a little strategic thought we can streamline.

You have a work flow. How organized it is depends on you. I want you to imagine yourself at your desk. If it is anything like mine we could say it’s “un-neatly organized.” Now that you are picturing it, imagine all the related tasks that are on it’s surface. The thirty-fifth paper in pile number two is related to the twenty-fourth paper in pile five. It has gotten this way due to neglect. Day to day, you take the top paper, work on it, put it somewhere else, or you throw it in the trash. You are in the system…

Quote1 working one task at a time you will fail to work strategically    Quote2

Now, imagine that you had perfect clarity. You are now standing over your desk (not sitting at it) and because you can see the big picture you can see how each paper corresponds to other papers and you begin to group them with all other relevant papers. You begin to see “mobilizations” instead of a to-do list. You realize that if you put the tenth paper in pile two together with the third paper in pile four and the fifth in pile five, you can take care of all of them with one action. You are now working ON the system…

As long as you are working one task at a time you will fail to work strategically, or give ownership of anything to anyone. It is faster to do the task than to teach (or allow) someone else to do it. However, if the related and relevant items are grouped, and a mobilization is build around it, you can give ownership of something much bigger than a task, and relieve yourself of the minutiae of having to perform every task yourself. As a collective whole, those tasks can become a strategic mobilization which results in the training of your direct reports and greater efficiency for the organization.

As a leader, your people need you to show them where they are headed and how they will get there. Inspire them with the big picture. Reward them for every step towards that end. Celebrate when each victory is achieved and inspire confidence in their abilities. You know that they are going to make mistakes. You also know that – initially – the tasks will get completed to a lesser level of excellence than it would had you completed the task on your own. However, to follow your same patterns will lead you into a trap. You do not have the option to work in the system and direct it from above. If you desire change in your organization, but refuse to let go of the lesser things, then step aside and let another lead. Remember, a leader rejoices more over a mistake made with effort than with inactivity perfectly executed.

PRACTICUM: Take a moment to think about repetative things that you do, the no-brainers. Now think about how often you do them. Add up the time on a weekly, monthly, yearly basis. Take one of those tasks, and hand them off to someone this week. Expect less than perfection and be willing to wait for the standard to rise.
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