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Change Here

Change Here

After the election last week in the United States, change is a hot topic, but it isn’t political change that I have been thinking about recently. It’s how organizations and their leaders cope—or, more often, fail to cope too well—with the need for changes in business practices to promote growth and foster creativity.

It’s a truism to point out that no one can avoid change. It’s part of the reality in which we live. Nothing ever stays the same for more than a short period. It’s equally obvious that very many people dislike, even fear, change and do their very best to keep everything around them the same. That’s sad in personal life, because it makes frustration and unhappiness certain. In business life, it’s a complete disaster.

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Why do so many business leaders try to cling grimly to the status quo, believing they can build innovative companies and still be risk-averse? They must realize that it is totally impossible, yet it doesn’t stop them from trying. Using words like “risk management” rather than “risk aversion” won’t alter the outcome either. Change and risk are inextricably joined. You cannot have one without the other. The more innovative the change, the greater the risk that comes with it. Of course, things sometimes go wrong. If they do, you can always look to another piece I published this week. It’s called When Sh*t Happens, and it may just help.

Maybe it’s this fear of any threat to their beloved status quo that makes leaders so scornful of idealism. It isn’t a dirty word, as many would have you believe. Idealism is an essential foundation for change and innovation of every kind. Change often takes a clear, inner belief that things can and should be better than they are: that strong faith in some vision of a better way to organize ourselves and our world. Every day, the world around us tests our consciences and our commitment to the values we say that we hold dear. Each compromise, each stepping away from what, deep within, we know is right, is another mental and spiritual defeat. Over time, all these compromises in the name of “being pragmatic” have produced today’s sense of resignation and the belief that our current workplace culture is inevitable. It is not. WE built it. If it doesn’t work well for us (and, I would argue, it most clearly does not), it is up to us to change it.

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You would think that, given the present obsession with leadership as the answer to every organizational problem, we would all be keenly aware of the need for change in the way we understand, define and teach management and leadership skills. Not a bit of it. Our management teaching sucks. It is riddled with outdated assumptions and techniques that owe more to folk tales that any kind of objective evidence. Perhaps that is why the fashion for Hamburger Management—managing in whatever shoddy way is least demanding of careful thought, costs least, and seems quickest—is contributing daily to the undermining of people’s dignity in the workplace.

I started this piece with the need for change in how we run organizations. Last Tuesday, the “Slow Leadership” Manifesto was published. You can read it, or download a copy, here. It’s a loud plea for change of the most fundamental kind in how we design and run our organizations today.

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Adrian Savage is a writer, an Englishman, and a retired business executive, in that order. He lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his other articles at Slow Leadership, the site for everyone who wants to build a civilized place to work and bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership and life. His new book, Slow Leadership: Civilizing The Organization

    , is now available at all good bookstores.
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    Last Updated on October 9, 2018

    How to Write a Personal Mission Statement to Ensure Peak Productivity

    How to Write a Personal Mission Statement to Ensure Peak Productivity

    Most of you made personal, one sentence resolutions like “I want to lose weight” or “I vow to go back to school.” It is a tradition to start the New Year with things you want to achieve, but under the influence resolutions are often unrealistic.

    If you’re wondering when will be a good time to write a mission statement, NOW is the time to take a personal inventory to make this year your most productive year ever. You may be asking yourself, “How am I going to do that?” You, my friends, are going to write personal mission statements.

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    A large number of corporations use mission statements to define the purpose of the company’s existence. Sony wants to “become the company most known for changing the worldwide poor-quality image of Japanese products” and 3M wants “to solve unsolved problems innovatively”. A personal mission statement is different than a corporate mission statement, but the fundamentals are the same.

    So why do you need one? A personal statement will help you identify your core values and beliefs in one fluid tapestry of content that you can read anytime and anywhere to stay on task toward success.

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    For example, Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire came to the realization that he had lost track of what was important to him. After writing a personal mission statement, we saw him start his own business and he got the girl, Renee Zelleweger. Not bad, wouldn’t you say? A personal mission statement will make sure that, through all the texting, emailing and constant bombardment of on-the-go activity, you won’t lose sight of what is most important to you.

    Mission statements can be simple and concise while others are longer and filled with detail. The length of your personal mission statement will not be determined until you follow this simple equation to create your motivational springboard for 2008.

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    To begin your internal cleansing, you will need to jot down the required information in the following five steps:

    1. What are your values? Values steer your actions and determine where you spend time, energy, and most importantly, money. Be specific and unique to yourself. Too much generalization will not be as effective. It is called a “personal” mission statement for a reason.
    2. What are three important goals you hope to achieve this year? Keep your list of important goals small and give them a date. It is better to focus on the horizon and not the stars. Realistic goals are keys to ultimate success.
    3. What image do you hope to project to yourself? How you see yourself is how the world will view you. Think about this carefully. Your image should encompass what you look like and feel after you have achieved your goals.
    4. Write down action statements from each value describing how you will use those values to achieve your three goals. Start with “I will…”
    5. Rewrite your statement to include only your action statements. Make portable copies for your wallet, car or office.

    If you followed the steps above, congratulations! You have just written your first personal mission statement. Your personal statement will change over the years as your goals change. You can have more than one statement for the different compartments of your life such as your career, family, marriage, etc.

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    Writing a personal mission statement is an effective method to ensure your productivity is at its peak. It is an ideal tradition to start so that when next year rolls around, the outdated practice of resolutions will be something you permanently left in the past.

    Featured photo credit: Álvaro Serrano via unsplash.com

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