Tom Shadyac recently produced a documentary entitled I Am. He traveled the world asking a couple key questions: What’s wrong with the world? And how can it be fixed? Spoiler alert: his conclusion was that what is wrong with the world is us, humans. And responsibility for fixing it lies with, yes, us, humans.
There seems to be a consensus out there that business-as-usual and life-as-we-know-it needs to change. What I wonder is, can the premise change? If virtually everything needs improvement, perhaps it’s time to adjust the focus away from, “What’s wrong with it?” to, “What do we need here?”
Example number one: If meetings are not working, standing or sitting is not going to change that. Back up one step, forget about the meeting altogether, and ask, What’s my goal or objective? I have to plan a conference that involves twenty eight people from three states. Forget the knee-jerk “I’ll call a meeting” approach. Instead, challenge yourself to find other ways to communicate as needed, and as much as needed; no more, no less.
Example number two: Forget about raises and benefits. Tradition tells us that well paid people are happy employees. Yes, we all work for money. But take a look at the young employees of Face Book. Once that IPO gets off the ground, they are going to have more money than they have ever dreamed of. Will it keep them at Face Book? Are there other reasons people want to work there? No one stays anywhere forever anymore, so back out of the How do we keep them? question, and ask instead, How do we capitalize on this talent while we have him or her?
Are you with me? On a global basis, we have a lot of fixing to do. On a more local level, some of that repair will begin to happen when we blow up the old paradigms. We need to stop manipulating an old model or rethinking an old question. Back up one step and rethink your approach based on your current objectives. Taking that road less travelled can make a difference starting now.