Dr. Albert Einstein said: “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking at which we were when we created them”. In other words, performing more of the same functions better, faster, smarter and more efficiently is not going to solve our problems; regardless of our best efforts, perseverance or zero-tolerance policies.
What will solve our problems, and Einstein already gave us the answer, is changing our level of thinking; questioning what we belief is right, true or valid. This quality is otherwise known as creativity and innovation. Whereas biological organizations put innovation and creativity at the “top” of the hierarchy (in the brain), most human-made organizations (such as corporations or nations) become increasingly rigid toward the top; anxiously holding on to the same level of thinking that created their trouble in the first place.
This self-imposed rigidity shows up in all sorts of unintended and unwanted symptoms, ranging from disappointing bottom line results, to a lack of employee engagement, the “War-for-Talent”, high cost of production, low customer-loyalty and fierce price-competition that erodes profitability and ultimately the viability of a business. Second chances provided by a Merger and Acquisition transaction become just a stay of execution when the acquiring business is governed by a similar level of thinking as that of the acquired company.
Significant problems arise from failures to adapt timely and adequately to unexpected and unanticipated events that create new and unforeseen circumstances. These problems cause changes in normal operating conditions that tend to be persistent and recurring when you least expect it or have the leeway to deal with successfully.
The character and nature of changes to normal operating conditions is enterprise-wide; it takes no notice of any departmental boundaries. This cross-over effect is particularly severe in complex organizations, which (computerized) complexly interdependent and tightly coupled processes can cause new symptoms elsewhere within the network.
Therefore, enterprise-wide change initiatives are the responsibility of top management; people who can exercise ultimate authority for conducting change initiatives and who therefore assume ultimately responsible for the success of the business as a whole.
Leaving it up to individual department managers each with their own limited authority and responsibility will only create conflicts of interest and unnecessary friction.
In order to solve enterprise-wide problems, top management must be capable of explaining why a business does as it does and why it does not generate the intended results or, if it generates these unwanted results, then what actions is the business actually performing?
This is important because once you understand the root of an organization’s dysfunctional behavior, you do not need to explore its countless manifestations.
Appreciation for the business system under one’s command and control -insight into the relationships between means & ends and cause & effect- enables leaders to adapt and adjust to new and unforeseen circumstances as they unfold. This ability of leading a business back onto its intended path in the direction of its intended destination is CEO Effectiveness.
CEO Effectiveness is not a tool, best-practice, theory, ideology or dogma. It is the perception of the environment in which we live; the moral compass of our values -that what we believe to be self-evident:
- Stewardship: The moral WILL to do what is right.
- Craftsmanship: The moral SKILL to find out what IS the right thing to do.
Our moral compass is guided by the laws of META-physics, contrary to science which is guided by the laws of physics. The laws of physics will produce the same result under similar conditions, which is evidently not the case for significant problems in business. How we perceive a business system and its environment changes the outcome of our actions, and each significant problem requires its own Authentic Solution.
Changing our perception is a journey that transforms what we believe to be true and valid. Only when we come from a different departure point can we obtain different results. When you want to stop performing the same ineffective activities over-and-over again because they result in the same unintended and unwanted results, you’d better change your mind!
When you find yourself in a leadership position today, you probably have acquired over time enough knowledge about WHAT and HOW to conduct routine operations. However, dealing with change demands that you know the WHY of applying what you know and how to do it; organizing what you know and directing it towards creating Authentic Solutions.
Only when you can account for your decisions, when you can explain succinctly why you acted as you did will you experience Peace-of-Mind; the knowledge that you acted with integrity in accordance with your moral compass.
Which way will you go: DO more and better of the same or THINK differently about what you believe to be self-evident? It’s your call!