Why would one join a coaching group, get oneself an executive coach, or hire an outside consultant? Why? What’s the purpose? What prompts one’s decision? What does one hope to get out of it? Do expectations match reality?
Yes, it’s rather comforting to be surrounded by one’s peers, people who can relate to your own challenges. So, what or who is challenging you? What makes it so challenging?
Studies show what confounds decision makers the most are:
- COMPLEXITY how everything seems to be connected with anything else. In other words, the intricately interconnected relationships between people, processes, tools, resources, and what-not; you name it.
- EVENTS how new and unforeseen circumstances disrupt system integrity ―business as usual―because of complexity.
No matter how many “secret” solutions are divulged to you, which one-size-fits-all silver bullet solution or best practice you learn to master, nothing matters UNLESS you explore the source of your bewilderment and confusion.
To be confounded means to be perplexed by many conflicting situations or statements; to be filled with bewilderment. The only remedy is to become UNperplexed; i.e. to gain insight into and understanding of key principles that make business systems succeed.
Success occurs when the current state of your business is aligned with the desired state. Hence, systemic problems occur when both states are misaligned. Learning the desired state is a matter of definition by executives, similar to writing the specs of a product or service. Finding the current state is a matter of mapping business processes. The discrepancy between the two states is called the problem, which can be measured and expressed in numerical terms. The solution is typically found within the problem itself.
Solving systemic problems is not about finding the best solution but about diagnosing the root cause(s) that created the systemic problem, the effects of which you experience as friction and conflict. Hence, there is no single best solution, let alone a secret generic one-size-fits-all silver bullet best practice; that’s a myth, a marketing ploy.
Solving systemic problems is a matter of following a disciplined linear approach of problem analysis, diagnosing root cause(s), and creating authentic solutions. This approach is a journey of discovery, which provides insight and understanding, which defies bewilderment with complexity and unfolding events.
You can talk about symptoms, effects, solutions, technology, leadership, agility, and disruption till the cows come home. You can implement a meeting’s Take-Home-Value the minute you come back to your office, but will it solve your systemic problems?
If there is confusion among executives regarding the exact definition of the business’ desired state and its current state is unknown . . . . . then what IS your problem anyway? And, if the problem is unknown, why would you worry about finding a solution? Who wouldn’t be perplexed looking desperately for a solution when the problem and its root cause(s) are still unknown?
Your challenge is not a lack of knowledge or unfamiliarity with the latest and greatest solutions, but a lack of discipline in diagnosing systemic problems. You already know all the answers. What you don’t know are the questions you should ask yourself. Formulating these questions is a matter of critical thinking.
Here is the REAL challenge, as formulated by Sir Joshua Reynolds:
There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking.
My advice is not to spend your money on coaching, consulting, seminars, training, or workshops, UNLESS you are WILLING to embrace the real labor of thinking.
To read more, get a copy of my book The Root Cause: Rethink Your Approach To Solving Stubborn Enterprise-Wide Problems.