Archive for November, 2018

You or Your Organization May Be Plateaued If… (Part 10)

November 26, 2018 Leave a comment

You or your organization may be plateaued if…

  1. If you are hoping for new results to appear while simply doing what you’ve always done.

Most of us are familiar with the definition of insanity—doing what you’ve always done and expecting different results. In the plateaued organization, this mindset has become a subtle mantra. Things will be different next Sunday or next month, next season, next semester, or next fiscal year. The plateaued organization often falls victim to the belief that current methods will finally pay off in whatever “next” moment is relevant to the organization’s business.

And sometimes it does…but rarely.

Sure, some efforts take time to take root. New initiatives don’t always explode into new opportunities overnight. Conditions must ripen before they produce the desired harvest. But in the plateaued organization, it’s usually not our waiting on new ideas that is unreasonable. Instead, it’s waiting for old ideas to produce the way they once did.

Ideas run their course. They rise in effectiveness and melt into obsolescence. In the rapidly changing environment our world has presented to us, “same-old, same-old” gets stale in a hurry. What brought you to the top of the mountain often can’t take you higher, especially if there are now changes in the terrain. A single idea may prove productive for a time, but often that time has the endurance of a fad and can’t sustain momentum for the weight of the organization.

If doing what you’ve always done isn’t producing anymore, an honest look is now critical. Unfortunately, current leaders have mastered their current ideas, and their leadership is so entangled in them that admitting what’s not working anymore can feel threatening. Past success almost always has us holding onto past methods longer than is effective. And the loss of momentum such clinging generates becomes very difficult to conquer—thus the plateau.

What does a plateaued organization need? New vision, new energy, new methods, new thinking—something NEW! But, as we’ve discussed in previous blogs, plateaued organizations treat what is new with great suspicion and often have a culture that makes it tough sledding for new ideas. Things will be different soon…or so we tell ourselves. But somehow, in spite of the public face we put on, we have little logical reason to believe they will.


You or Your Organization May Be Plateaued If… (Part 9)

November 19, 2018 Leave a comment

You or your organization may be plateaued if…

  1. If people don’t take responsibility for current realities.

We have already seen how people in a plateaued organization tend to blame others for their collective inability to move forward, but there’s a deeper, and perhaps less obvious, indicator of plateau in many of their conversations. In plateaued organizations, people do not do what they could do because they are expecting the solutions to come from elsewhere.

Often these friends take a new idea or a necessary decision and make it more difficult by loading down the moment and the conversation with larger issues—one’s they aren’t expected to solve. So, the moment of decision is overwhelmed by reasoning that focuses on what the board of directors, the pastor, the marketing department, or some other group that’s not in the room needs to do. Inaction continues by making every issue something bigger than my portfolio or pay grade. If you have discussions that end with something someone else needs to do, you’re likely in a plateaued organization.

Folks in plateaued organizations also tend to blame the past, or the changing marketplace, or, again, something or somebody that’s not in the room or not within their authority for the difficulties. Never mind that we were in the same marketplace or had the same production team back when we were winning. It’s just that back then, folks saw it as their jobs to find solutions and do what they could to move us forward.

Sure, there are times when the answers must come from areas beyond my responsibility, but if I tend to look more at what others need to do than I look at the difference I can make, we are probably a plateaued organization, and we’re showing little likelihood of changing that reality. Truth is, plateaus are seldom caused or resolved by a single entity in the organization. Instead, when we each roll up our sleeves looking to make a difference, we can often find solutions together.

Organizations that break out of plateaus do so with creative solutions offered by people determined to do their part. If you’re convinced that someone else’s part is the key to your organization’s turnaround, you may be part of the problem.

Your or Your Organization May Be Plateaued If… (Part 8)

November 12, 2018 Leave a comment

You or your organization may be plateaued if…

  1. If you or your coworkers have ever said, “that’s not my job.”

Imagine you’re playing football (or watching your favorite team) and your opponent fumbles the ball right in front of one of your teammates. But, rather than pounce on that loose ball, your player just stands motionless and makes no effort to make what could have been the play that kept your team from losing. Now imagine that when asked later why he didn’t make an effort to recover the fumble, your player says, “Well, my job is to tackle people, not to carry the ball.”

Of course, you (your teammates and your fans) would come unglued in frustration. Not my job? Sure, when the plays were designed it’s quite possible that we never designed a play that called on this particular teammate to run with the ball, but we’re trying to win a game and every opportunity to do so needs to be engaged by any and all of us, right?

Perhaps the sports analogy leaves you unmoved, but we all have likely met not-my-job guy. He’s the one who avoids extra effort and has never gotten within a mile of going the extra mile. Usually he (or she) sees opportunity as someone else’s responsibility and avoids the necessary effort to help his team or his organization win.

Frankly, organizations that are moving forward and experiencing growth seldom tolerate this guy for very long, but plateaued organizations have a way of tolerating him. In fact, individuals and even departments have a way of becoming “territorial” about their work. No one is allowed to touch what’s theirs and no one is allowed to expect them to touch what’s not. Such people tightly compartmentalize responsibility in a manner that limits their efforts to the minimums.

When an organization is not moving forward, its people stop moving forward too.

If you’ve been in a growing organization, you know that every day is characterized by an “all hands on deck” mentality or an “if you’re the closest…” work ethic. Now sometimes, we end up stepping on each other or acting a bit inefficiently when we don’t divide the work clearly, but such errors occur because of effort, not a desire for idleness.

If you’re people demonstrate a hesitancy to step up to assignments, if they look at others before making the play themselves, if they seem clearer on what they don’t do, then you probably have a plateaued organization. Never forget that not-my-job guy doesn’t work for a winning organization.