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Be Careful What You Read

Despite the challenges of having young children and a hectic travel schedule, I try to find creative ways to read each week. Audible seems to be the easiest option, given the mileage I drive each year, but my kindle has the ability to keep me awake for at least a few minutes once my head hits the pillow.

I began reading on a regular basis several years ago, mostly books about self-improvement, or autobiographies. Of all of the books I’ve read, however, there is one that I haven’t, and it will likely shock you.

I haven’t read Good to Great

There I said it… Feels almost like an omission of guilt. That said, there’s a reason I haven’t read Good to Great yet. I first began reading on a regular basis back in 2011, and at that time there were questions surrounding the lessons that author James Collins touted in his seminal work.  You see, what you might not be aware of is that by 2011 virtually every single one of the eleven companies that James outlined as being “great” had either gone bankrupt (Circuit City), been placed in conservatorship (Fannie Mae), had stock growth of 0% (Abott, Walgreens), or had other issues, some more public and recent (Wells Fargo).

What happened to these companies doesn’t suggest that James was wrong in his diagnosis, but what it does suggest is that what made a company great at a point in time doesn’t mean that  same company will always be great.

In other words, as my friend Marshall Goldsmith once wrote, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.”

This is the most important lesson from Good to Great (and James’ follow up book How The Mighty Fall). We can’t introduce change with and through our teams and expect to be finished with the work. In fact, that’s ludicrous. Yet this is what I see happening with teams each and every day. We identify what needs to change, change it, and then become complacent.

Complacency in business equals death.

True, it’s difficult to convince your employees to constantly expect and accept change. In fact, getting buy-in and support of change, particularly with long-term employees, is likely one of the most difficult things a leader can achieve, yet it’s absolutely crucial to long-term success.

Change is uncomfortable for everyone. From a business and longevity standpoint, discomfort is the sign of progress. In fact it’s more than a sign, it’s a clear measurable.

This week, take some time to assess changes that are underway in your organization. Pull your team together and discuss what they find uncomfortable about the change, and ask their perspective on why they believe the change is necessary.

Their responses will make it clear whether they have bought into the changes (and whether the change will be successful) and the distance between your intentions by introducing the change, and their perspectives on the criticality and urgency of making the change stick.

Do me a favor. Send me an email and let me know the largest scale change you have underway today, and what feedback your employees give you following this exercise. What’s good about their feedback, and what’s surprising.

© Shawn Casemore 2017. All rights reserved.

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