I was driving to a friend’s house, with my family. I decided to take a shortcut. At least, I knew the shortcut was there. Pretty sure. I had never driven in on it. You already know where this story is going…
Discovered some parts of town I hadn’t known how to get to before.
Found a park.
Saw some nice homes. A couple of weird ones.
Eventually, I had to turn around. Naturally, I waited until my wife had given up telling me to turn around.
I was invested in this direction. Stuck in that vision.
It felt like a defeat.
Even though turning around helped me find my friend’s house.
Turnarounds Are Tough
When are they needed?
Failing businesses. Toxic teams. Those are the obvious places to start.
Turnarounds are also needed in the following circumstances:
- External Change: Significant changes in the market or environment no longer allow business or services as usual.
- Rapid Growth: Fast, internal growth means that existing systems, management styles or leadership approaches will no longer be effective.
- Comfort and Complacency: An organization hasn’t failed but has stalled. It’s gotten Complacent. This is often a pre-failure condition.
- The Departure of a Founder or Legacy Leader: Some leaders have such a strong presence and impact on the organization that things tend to organize around their personality and preferences. Even if extraordinarily effective, no one can successfully step into their bespoke shoes. The shoes need to be changed.
Existing leaders find it tough to separate a successful past from what is needed for the future. It’s difficult to see things for what they are and determine what they need to be. It’s difficult to give up on a dream or shift a vision.
Some incoming leaders, poor suckers, didn’t know a turnaround was needed. They may feel blindsided. Fooled. Frustrated. If they didn’t know, it means one or both of two things:
- They aren’t ready to lead a turnaround because they couldn’t see the signs.
- They were misled because the organization was deceiving itself and isn’t able to talk about difficult topics openly.
Some will freeze. Like a deer in the headlights. They’ll probably try to jump out of the way, but it’s anyone’s guess where they’ll go.
Some will try to tackle the turnaround. Bu this means risking being viewed as the bearer of bad news, the challenger of legacy, the killer of sacred cows. No fun.
Some opt to avoid the bad news, protect the legacy and humor the cows. In other words, they choose to manage decline.
Other incoming leaders, the heroes who save the day, are often recruited to accomplish a turnaround. Too many of these have a tendency to just focus on “what’s wrong” in an organization. They are often rejected, just like a body might reject a transplanted organ. They might fight the rejection – but they’ll usually lose most of their people in the process.
Any way you slice it, a turnaround is usually a challenge.
It’s difficult. We get invested in doing things a certain way. We get stuck. In a pattern. Like a habit. Or an addiction.
It’s just hard to change.
Change requires confrontation. A confrontation with the current reality. With who we are. With what we are (or aren’t) doing.
It requires acknowledging that our current reality is what is blocking a future, desired reality. It’s not someone else’s fault. It’s not the economy. It’s not a new regulation. It’s not kids these days.
It’s just not easy.
But it’s not impossible.
The Twelve Steps For Leading A Successful Turnaround
- We acknowledge that we have been powerless to sustain success. We no longer bring sufficient value to our customer or ourselves.
- We come to believe and accept that what got us here will no longer get us there.
- We make a decision to evaluate and give up our Sacred Cows and Precious Assumptions. We actively develop a new and compelling image of what we can become.
- We make a searching and fearless inventory of our strengths and weaknesses. We learn to be honest about past successes, blind-spots, and failures.
- We acknowledge to ourselves and our customers the exact nature of how we have not delivered the service and value we have promised.
- We become ready to change. Even if that means we need to change.
- We receive help when it is needed. We don’t argue with it. We don’t pretend that the same kind of thinking that brought us here is the thinking that will help us change.
- We face difficult facts. We acknowledge how a lack of change has impacted customers, employees, partners, vendors, and others. We become willing to make changes to be able to produce dramatic value for others.
- We make those changes. We vigorously reject excuses, minimization or rationalization. We rid ourselves of unhelpful practices, undesired products or services and people who are toxic or refuse to contribute.
- As we grow and change, we continue to acknowledge mistakes and build systems of accountability to grow.
- Through reflection, assessment, and accountability we pursue on-going growth, recognizing that we can no longer only listen to our own
- Having experienced organizational renewal as result of these steps, we carry these principles and lessons learned to future generations of leaders and continue to practice them as we move forward.
The first quarter is over. Are you where you want to be?
Are you a leader of a small or medium sized organization? Do you oversee a division or department of a large organization?
You probably started 2017 with some goals. Maybe even a detailed plan.
Now the first quarter is over. How are you doing? Are you where you wanted to be?
Or have you been pulled off track? Slowed down? Frustrated?
Would you like to get back on course to accomplishing your vision for the year?
If your answer is YES, then I have something special for you. I have a few slots on my calendar to speak with you 1-on-1 about specific strategies so that you can continue to make 2017 a year of purpose, intention, and success.
On the call, I’ll share with you specific strategies you can use to turn your year around, redevelop your focus and overcome obstacles.
Due to my busy schedule, I only have a few slots open for this complimentary call on a first-come-first-served basis. Email me at Christian@vantageconsulting.org or call me at 907 522-7200.