Go with me back to the late fall in Boston in 1775. The campaign season fighting the British has come to an end and the American Army under George Washington is in an ambiguous situation. Washington and the American army were dispersed controlling every land approach into the city. The British held the harbor and Boston proper. They had fortified every place that seemed important to the defense of the city. They planned, hesitated and settled down to await developments. It was a stalemate. Washington needed to find a competitive advantage if he was to achieve success.
Washington saw a weakness in the British plan and knew that Dorchester Heights was the key to controlling Boston. Whoever controlled the heights and positioned cannon there could command the harbor and the city. There was just one little problem.
Build on strengths provides superior outcomes over concentrating on overcoming weaknesses. This is one of life’s lessons that took me a while to learn, but once I did, there was plenty of reinforcing wisdom.
Peter Drucker said, “The task of leadership is to create an alignment of strengths in ways that make weaknesses irrelevant.” If you are a student of LEAN, you understand that you get what you focus on and if you are a student of the Bible, you know to build your house on the rock rather than on the sand. In all three of these references, we are told that building on strengths provides superior outcomes over concentrating on overcoming weaknesses.
Over the course of my career, I have come to understand that when there is balance, success can be achieved. When there is imbalance, success is temporary or illusive. For Example:
Balance ( Vision & Change) = Sustainability
Balance (Plan & Agility) = Performance
Balance (Strategy & Execution) = Profitability
Balance (Customer, Owners, & Employees) = Ethics
Balance (all of the above) = Excellence
As we look at a future that includes massive disruption and incredible achievement, our future depends on people and how they react to massive change. Today, we are witnesses to massive institutional failure and societal transformation. Digital technology continues to expand and make our lives better on a daily basis. Computers are more powerful and faster. Smart phones are becoming more powerful with the proliferation of applications expanding rapidly. Online news is faster than anything we have ever had before providing us with more options than imaginable just a few years ago. nanotechnology, biotechnology and quantum physics are just a few of the areas that offer unbelievable breakthroughs in technology that will improve our lives in unimaginable ways. Even the energy we once thought was running out is being discovered right in our own back yards. The possibilities are incredible.
Customers and ability to change are two things that all organizations must have to survive and prosper in today’s environment. First and foremost, an organization must satisfy the ever more demanding needs of their customers and clients. Second, they must be able to change rapidly or they will be overtaken by their competitors. In both cases initiative implementation is critical.
Business initiative, marketing initiative, project initiative or strategic initiative, they all need an implementation plan or implementation process that provides the lowest costs and the shortest time to completion. This ability to respond quickly and efficiently has become a competitive advantage for organizations that have developed agility in their organization.