Sunday, September 1, 2013

600th Blog to Celebrate Labor Day: Sow Innovation, Overcome Mediocrity

Labor Day is the symbol of upcoming Autumn -the harvest season; it’s also a great time for business to look around, dig through, what did you sow -innovation or complacency; and what will you harvest-stellar performance or mediocre result? Organizations are facing the expedited changes, however, the culture inertia always drag them down: How to break through the complacent mindset and how to overcome the culture of mediocrity?   

1 What Drives Mediocrity? 

If  look at business results, there are THREE types of performance: poor, mediocre and great. Mediocre is the largest category. What drives mediocrity? Organizations themselves or individuals? All the systems thinkers say it's the organization or the way it's designed, and the leaders are responsible for the design of the system. But who created the systems, the people. 
  • People are the weakest link to cause mediocrity: Organizations, as a social milieu made of individuals, may encourage or even drive mediocrity. A system has neither accountability nor responsibility. A system cannot provide leadership. Individuals must be made accountable and responsible including giving into mediocrity. The systems never have saved the world but individuals did. You need first and foremost people who value working to the best of their ability, willing to cooperate and communicate effectively under conditions of mutual trust, to achieve a common goal, 
  • You also need the appropriate hierarchical structure of people, with the appropriate skills and accountabilities to make decisions and exert managerial leadership authority at the right levels to organize, manage, and do the work that needs to get done. This also entails that worker roles and responsibilities are able to be defined and delineated and that each person is committed to doing the work required of them in the context of the larger whole. Workers also need to know how the work they are doing, and the work of others, is connected to produce goods or services that create profitable customers. A highly motivated and professional individual can lose their organizational commitment and will to perform in the absence of the right supporting organizational dynamics - structure, support, reinforcing culture, etc.
  • One can begin to see the complexity and great achievement required, in having a group of people come together and raise them as a group above mediocrity and into a high-performing organization capable of profitably pursuing their mission. The properties of the system are the product of the interaction of the parts, not the parts taken separately. Therefore, a system cannot be divided into independent parts. The performance of a system depends on how the parts interact, not on how the parts perform separately         

2. Culture Reflects the Quality of Leadership 

“The spirit of organization is from top" -Peter Drucker

Mediocrity in most of the time is used as a tag word. There can't be a definite answer. One thought could be not letting anybody to reach his or her true potential in the current organizational structure. It's about keeping faith in one's abilities and potentials. In other words, it concerns how well you know your team and associates to carry out a project in the certain direction. Does the manager really understand his/her team's potential? And it's about taking chances and following beliefs and’s about the quality of leadership. 
  • The "organization" is a direct reflection of its leadership team and contributors. Strong Leaders do not settle for mediocre performance to their business Goals & Objectives. Business culture reflects energy, passion, commitment, and other performance-enhancing team characteristics. Therefore, if you have an organization with mediocre performance then you have a mediocre leadership team or organization. 
  • People can be brought to improved levels of engagement, commitment and performance under the right leadership. Personal outlook and values are important individual factors for performance excellence. Effective leadership, and all it entails is the key differentiator for organizational performance. If mediocrity is average, then mediocrity is driven by the normal statistics. As far as organizations are concerned, organizations are made of individuals. Because the organization and its individuals are relatively inseparable, it follows that when an organization's leaders have accepted mediocrity as the standard, then mediocre results will generally follow. 
  • Leadership attitude drives or discourages mediocrity. It may turn out that the majority of individuals belonging to an organization driving mediocrity are, per se, mediocre. If this is the case then top management's leadership and attitude towards mediocrity may be a key factor in letting organization drive or discourage mediocrity. Don't you think that the best leaders are able to get stellar performance with ordinary individuals? As long as an individual is honest, hardworking, and able, any leader ought to be able to achieve stellar performance with such individuals. 
Culture precedes strategy, the culture of mediocrity will lead to “so-so” strategy execution, only those organizations or individuals that sow the seeds of the culture of 21 century such as innovation, learning agile, inclusiveness, risk-awareness, analytics., etc, can expect an abundance of inspiration and the blossom of harvest.


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