Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Conspicuous Consumption

Many businesses across North America, and indeed around the world, are consumed by the financial imperatives of the next quarter.  They spend enormous amounts of time pouring over numbers and generating budgets and estimates and then breaking them down into bite sized units of quarters, months and sometimes even days. 

The organization becomes singularly focused on meeting or exceeding the next set of results that is anticipated by the ‘street’.  Protecting and growing shareholder value is the principal reason for every decision.  The bar is set higher and higher and the pressure to perform mounts with each passing financial report.

Once a target is met, it’s on to the next.  Like the dog chasing its own tail, the pursuit is endless.

I want to offer a contrarian opinion.

As the leader, you must be consumed by the process of achievement; you cannot be consumed by the achievement itself.  Let me explain.

Your role is to pour your passion; your integrity; your experience; your knowledge and your vision into the process of achievement.  It is only in the process that you have the opportunity to interact with your team and to build into each person the culture and values that keep your enterprise successful.  The achievement itself- the attainment of the goal – becomes the natural outcome of the work done in the process. 

It may seem that I am splitting hairs but I assure that I am not. You can and must separate the process from the result.

 Let me use this simple example.

Two writers are asked to write a mystery novel.  Writer #1 submits 20 chapters of increasingly complex detail and intrigue before finally revealing the mystery.
Writer #2 submits just one line … ‘the butler, in the parlour with a candlestick…’

Both arrived at the same place but which was the successful submission.

Being fully committed – being consumed – by your role is not, in and of itself, a bad thing.  Provided that you maintain a balance in your life, being consumed is much better than a half-hearted effort.  

But keep your focus on that which matters and the results will come.  If you are consumed only by the goal and not the process you will lose your joy that comes with the achieving on the way to the achievement.

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