Friday, 22 June 2012

Need a mindset for adaptation? Team up

My latest post told my story of a week of hiking.
In essence, it was a classical story of engaging a new venture, preparing for it as best as you can, being confronted with (utter) failure and adapt to the changed circumstances by listening to yourself, your peers, experts in the field - and then growing into the situation you got yourself into by adopting new and better tools and ways of behaving.
The outcome? Relatively ridiculously great success from my point of view, good effort and result from the point of view of my friends.
What lies ahead? More growth by change, and determination to continue into the direction I went. I'll lose 15 kilograms to start with (15% of current bodyweight) and take up walking - I love it, and by Jove I need the exercise

Is that how it always goes? That depends. Olivier Blanchard made the great point I'll work out here:
That was the end of a conversation, but it was a good one. I could have walked away (loads of pun intended) and my Gawd did I often think of that. Did I have the mindset before I started the journey? Most certainly not. I liked to see my old friends again, most of which I hadn't seen in years. We never walked for fun, spent most of our time in places where they serve liquids

But my mind set during. I think that's the most important point. Luckily I was a one-man army in this undertaking and didn't have to drag tens or hundreds of people with me into a 180-ed view of affairs. But if I had, I'd have shared with them my changed perceptions and understandings, and explained how the new solutions would get us where we needed to go.
In my case the tools changed everything (can't build up physical fitness within a week) yet Olivier hit the nail on his head by saying:

And it is exactly that what happened. I adopted new tools, they changed everything for me (proved me very wrong in my approach) and then what? I got confronted with a blister on each heel and 5 days of walking still ahead. I could have done the following:

  1. Ignore the outcome and strictly stick to adopt. I just had to break in my army boots, it would only take a day or so more and then everything would be fine. Slap on some more Compeed, take a painkiller and everything would work out
  2. Slightly accept the outcome, and slightly adapt. Some suggested cutting out the heel in my shoes so the blisters wouldn't get worse (they were probably joking but it's a fine example), but buying proper socks was a serious one
  3. Fully accept the outcome, and fully adapt. Change tools, keep mindset and endurance, and go all the way forward
  4. Give up. Throw away all, whine and sob and victimise myself ("I always knew this was a bad idea") and either fly back home immediately or rent a car, spend the days on my own sightseeing or getting slammed, and join the pack again in the evening

In terms of successful outcome, chances increase with each option. The last one isn't really success in everyone's eyes, but at least you survived a week of walking without much short-term suffering - the loss of face would be long-term suffering for sure of course.
In terms of investment, the money involved also increases with each option. The funny thing is, option 3 and 4 wouldn't have made much of a difference. So total success and total failure would have costed the same in this case. Odd isn't it?

20 Years ago, I'd probably have gone for option 1. A few years later, maybe option 2. What really was the breakthrough, however, and it's taken me a day or so to figure this out, was the fact that I really loved the hiking, fully understood that I was completely unequipped for it in my current form and outfit, and especially, but most especially, marvelled at my friends who seemingly effortlessly undertook the very same journey.
And that, I think, is the crux. As a baby, why do you learn to walk? Because everyone walks. Has there ever been anyone who believed he couldn't learn how to walk? We'll never get the answer to that of course. Why did it take so very, very long before people learned how to fly? Because no one else does

Belief, confidence. Olivier calls it mindset, but what makes your mind set? My mind was set differently before the start, I thought it was going to be a laugh, walking 25 kilometres a day on flat-ish terrain. 4 kilometres an hour of easy walking, 7 hours, 1 hour rest, yay!
In stead, we walked 6 kilometres per hour on flat-ish terrain to make up for the 2.5-3 kilometres an hour we did while ascending and descending 400-500 metres over a few 100. My mind was so not set for that...

So, coming back to Social: who walks the Social way? I mean really? Where are your friends, your buddies, who show that walking the Social way is fun and effortlessly? Where are the examples you need to set your mind to a different tune?
We've all heard the examples of Zappos and other successful green-field companies who were born and bred in Social, but how many examples are there of dinosaur enterprises being hugely successful in Social?
At the very best, they'll tell you how they've reduced email usage. Or how many blog posts and wiki pages their employees have created, and the time they spend on it. Outcome and result of all that? The silence is deafening when it comes to measuring it in terms of money in and out

Where are Enterprise's Social buddies? So far, there are so very few that I can easily get away with claiming there are none. Sure there are great examples of Enterprises who Socialise a bit, but Social Enterprises don't exist. They might try Social, and fail or succeed or any gray scale in between the two, but where do they get the stamina to persevere?

It all boils down, again, to the Group-Individual paradigm I have been trying to lay my hands on for so long. It is the last piece of my puzzle and I know the outer ends of that scale but the endless grays in between form a mountain of analysis to perform.
Like I stated in my Social Business (R)evolution book, change comes slowly. And growth even slower than that. So, let me propose something extraordinary:

  • You need a buddy, preferably a pack of buddies, to get an appetite for change
  • So, partner up with your two most loved competitors and have a Social contest
  • Share the inputs (workshops, social evangelists but also priests, and tools)
  • Share the outcomes. Maybe the same method as above
  • Be open, come forward. Make your hidden agenda very small, and just tell your heart off. No need to go into minute detail and hang out the dirty laundry, but just lead by example and give useful feedback - like you would expect your two buddies to do
  • Then, decide whether it is really "for you". Do you continue into the same direction yet on another path? Great. Do you think it's absolutely not something that will bring money and joy to your company and customers? Great too - just lovingly kiss it goodbye
  • Assuming you want to continue, with the knowledge gained, try together (or alone, if you're really shy) one more time. Change, adapt, listen, learn, lead - grow. Evaluate, CEO-2-CEO if you like, on the golf course, informally, or on Twitter even
  • Finally, ass-kick the rest of the competition and take some of their market share
  • Cigar, whiskey, the (happy) end - for now

We all need a buddy or two in life. Preferably more for the hard tasks. Get outside your comfort zone, kick your legal department in the chins, and get entrepreneurial again. It might lead to fantastically new and great insights that will change your future

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