America was placed in a perilous position for sixteen days as our congressional leaders launched a battle of will on how to address the country’s economic direction. During the sixteen days, I had time to reflect on the law of unintentional consequences. Unintentional Consequences are outcomes that are not intended by the purposeful action. These consequences are positive, negative or perverse and cannot be foreseen. In the instance of the congressional stand-off, the positive or unexpected benefit (for the American people) was raising the awareness of Obama-care whose October 1st launch would have gone unnoticed by most Americans, hence resulting in an overwhelming demand for the very benefit the shutdown was intended to abolish. The negative consequence was the crippling of the constituents and small businesses that entrusted the congressional leaders to revamp government into a smaller more cost effective entity. Finally, as a result of being "in too deep" on their position, there was the perverse impact of weakening America's reputation around the globe as a world leader.
As organizational leaders, we often take a strong stance on a particular policy, process or issue and are then surprised by unintentional consequences? Positions that may stifle our ability to shift in a much needed direction to stimulate growth, increase collaboration and innovation, or abolish a process that causes a financial or productivity drain. We are willing to risk it all on principle. Earlier this year Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, recognized the need for increased productivity and a more connected culture at Yahoo. In order to achieve the desired outcome, she made the call to end the company's telecommuting policy. The decision was not well received by the impacted employees or the general public but it was the right decision for the company. How many leaders in Yahoo, recognized the need for a change but stood on principle or fear of rocking the boat and did nothing?
Are you in too deep? Holding on to a particular position in spite of the consequences? Do you have policies, processes or procedures that are crippling your organization and your ability to lead? Are you settling for the "this is the way we always do it" mentality or the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" conundrum?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you have taken the first step towards revitalizing your organization. There are many lessons to be learned from the Congressional debacle. It has presented a great opportunity to reflect on how your business is being managed.
Take a few minutes today to audit your company policies, processes, and procedures and contact me if you would like assistance in conducting your organizational assessment.