Stay. Roll Over. Play Dead.
“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.” This quote by J.P. Morgan, American financier and banker who arranged the merger of two electric companies to form General Electric along with later mergers of other companies to form the United States Steel Corporation, caught my attention.
What is it that inspires some leaders to take bold actions to move their organizations to a higher level of performance while others are content to accept the status quo? What makes some leaders simply intolerant of “good” when the option of “great” is out there?
When we consider organizations that are on the performance excellence journey, we find some common themes.
1. An intense, constant focus on improving
“A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” ~John Steinbeck, Pulitzer Prize-winning American author
2. A tolerance for uncertainty, which is required when embarking on a journey without being able to see the whole path/route
“Leadership is all about taking people on a journey. The challenge is that most of the time, we are asking people to follow us to places we ourselves have never been.” ~Andy Stanley, founder of North Point Ministries
3. An acknowledgment that regular, objective assessment of progress is critical to making mid-course corrections along the way
“We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.” ~C. S. Lewis, Irish novelist, poet, and academic
4. A thirst to learn from other travelers on the journey
“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.” ~Jack Welch, American businessman, former CEO of General Electric
What does all of this have to do with the subject line, “Stay. Roll over. Play dead.”? We believe that organizations that choose to accept their current level of performance (“Stay”) are yielding the advantage to their competitors (“Roll over”). Over the long term, they just might not survive (“Play dead.”) What’s preventing you from starting the journey?