We didn’t care enough

Yesterday someone asked me why a problem hadn’t been solved before and I replied that we obviously just hadn’t cared enough. It felt like that needed a longer explanation, so I told them what I’m about to tell you…

Things that organisations really care about get done. They are the things that people chase up. They are (often) the things we measure. If an organisation really wants something to happen then it will tend to find a way. I feel the same about ‘difficult conversations’ – if you care enough you find a way. If you don’t then you didn’t care enough. All the ‘I didn’t know how’ was bluster to make you feel better. If we care enough we find a way.

Things that organisations would like to get done – which might be awkward or tricky – are the ones that path the way to hell. They are the ones where everyone agreed it was a good idea to do something but… You had the list of things that you would get chased for and this isn’t on it.

That’s common sense. It’s not a judgment on your organisation or mine. The stuff the CEO/Board/Senior Team prioritise tends to be the stuff that gets prioritised. That’s why common assent that something should be done has far less likelihood of action resulting than one person believing something has to be done.

Someone once told me that the most powerful tool a leader has in their kit is the ability to clearly signal what they value.

  • What do you talk about?
  • What do you reward?
  • Where do you spend your time?

Arguably the first point there is easily overwhelmed by the second and third. If you talk a good game yet spend your time elsewhere and reward different activity then people will guess what you really value is different to what you describe.

So have a think about how you show what you care about – and reflect on the things you might want to happen but somehow your signals aren’t congruent with showing that. And then have a think on why.

From #metoo through to simplifying your processes if you really want things to be different then you need to care enough.

You can’t care about everything – so be honest with yourself and others.

I can’t see any reason this picture would be here, but I couldn’t be bothered to spend time looking for a better one. That’s a clear signal that I’m done here.

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