This blog is about the relationship between organizations and the people who work for them and the communities they operate in. And, it’s dedicated to the 100s of millions of people around the world who go to work every day wanting to do a great job.

Staying in touch with reality

The single most challenging thing facing my clients is staying in touch with reality.

And, the pace of change just makes it harder.

It’s easier to assume we know what we don’t, or can’t, know. After all we have to get onto the next pressing issue.

It’s easier to react and respond rather than ask ‘why?

In a way, it may be as Marshall McLuhan described it: “In our time we are reliving at high speed the whole of the human past.  As in a speeded-up film, we are traversing all ages, all experience, including the experience of prehistoric man.” And, he added: “You can turn it off.”

And, maybe that’s what we’re doing.  Maybe, in order to survive we’re just turning it off.

What’s great about McLuhan, though, is that if you didn’t like that idea he has another one:  “With the acceleration of change, management now takes on entirely new functions.  While navigating admidst the unknown is becoming the normal role of the executive, the new need is not merely to navigate but to anticipate effects with their causes.”

But in turning it off we’re missing that this time of change is also a time of incredible opportunity. Those who’ll succeed and thrive, it won’t be because of random luck.  It won’t be because they’re comfortable with, and embrace, ambiguity. It will be because they’ve stayed in touch with the reality of what is changing and what is staying the same and what the implications of those changes are in relationship to their values and highest aspirations.

In your organization, do your leaders know what they don’t know?

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Deborah Hinton Friday, February 17th, 2012
Permalink Culture, Management, Work 2 Comments

2 Comments to Staying in touch with reality

  • Hi Deborah –

    I’m generally in your camp regarding getting in touch with reality, but I’m beginning to see the limitations of reality as the driving force for creation.

  • Hi Steven. Nice to hear from you here. As for your comment: That’s because the driving force is structural tension – clarity on aspiration and reality in relation to that held at the same time! Cheers.

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