When It Works


I’ve had the distinct pleasure and honor to partner with leaders of a variety of organizations and companies. Where there is vision and passion mixed with competency, drive, and resources; there is an unmistakable flow and repetitive success that builds on each incremental improvement and achievement.  The momentum accelerates. More people want to buy, participate, join, comment, and tweet. Revenues increase. Everybody senses something is different, and they want to experience “it.” And then they want to duplicate the experience and the success elsewhere.  They are usually totally puzzled about how to replicate what they have experienced, or they fail miserably by attempting to reproduce what are only the surface elements they have selectively attempted to copy.

What has taken very careful, persistent, focused, and laser-like discipline to lay the tracks for actually looks and feels easy.  The preparation and discipline are not.  The rewards of being in the flow are…..but without spectacularly consistent attention, they will slow to a ripple.  In my experience, there are a number of factors that are hallmarks of getting to this magical, and yet very attainable, experience in business when it works:

Absence of ego: It’s about the vision and the new reality – not me, my legacy, or what I’m going to get.

Energy and desire to engage in creating and designing exceeds expectations: We’ll all do what it takes and MORE. It’s being in the joint design and creation – and the subsequent results – that yields intoxicating experiences that drive a desire to replicate the flow again and again.

Openness to possibility: What would previously have been viewed as impossible is seen as the next logical mountain to climb – and of course we’ll make the ascent!

No room for apathy, negativity: The team self-polices anyone who is not on board, and it is clear that only contributions that lead towards success are welcome.  Team members unable to adjust self-select.

Common language: Everyone speaks a common lingo around what success looks like, how they’re going to get there, and what will be different. It lives daily in all conversations.

Desire to challenge/push boundaries  and to have breakthroughs: Once one major accomplishment outside the former normal paradigm is well-executed, transformation accelerates as the group pushes each other along to bigger and more frequent breakthroughs.  The culture is changed by virtue of the thirst to have more high performance experiences.

There is a moment: Everyone involved, affected, and with connection suddenly sees the vision, because it is living.  And it is theirs.  Ownership shifts completely to those who are fully engaged and/or benefactors of the work, new product, or experience.

Homework: Everybody does their background research before recommendations to step out on the next ledge are even considered. More is at stake, because everyone is watching, and everyone involved in getting to this point treasures the new place to which they have arrived.  External envy creeps into the picture, because competitors notice something is different and realize a bullet train has left the station – and they’re not on it and don’t have the lens to yet understand it.

Taste of success makes them hungry:  The desire to repeat is strong, and the opportunity to have a colossal failure also awaits nearby. While the team has become seasoned in how to perform consistently at this level, they must now guard against arrogance or taking an invincible posture. 

Recognition that maintenance is decline in disguise: At last, the paradigm and its accompanying culture is fully cracked open and is replaced by a nimble, alert, A-team with the full realization that to maintain at any point in time is to stagnate into decline. Re-creation and re-invention are now the recognized circle of life.

Custodians of the future: With the accompanying rebirth is acknowledgement that at any moment in time, all parties are custodians of the future, not preservers of the past or validators of the present.

Feeling of responsibility to successors: Participants honor the past while recognizing they are servants to the heirs, not the ancestors of legacy products and services, and act from movement towards a future that is always in re-design; appropriate for the needs of the moments yet to come.

Commitment to execute: The daily motivator is to keep executing, testing, piloting, adjusting, learning, unlearning, re-learning, and re-formulating unceasingly so that motion and action on the vision never ceases.

Respect and interest in each other: All parties engaged in joint creation have a respect for what each contributor brings to the table and is interested in how they have come to play their role, how they continue to challenge and develop themselves, and support continuous learning and development of their colleagues.

Great sense of fun and camaraderie: Everyone is on an adventure together and takes time to laugh together, celebrate together, acknowledge personal and group achievement, and has a sense of what they are about together. 

The really lucky ones know in the moment that this time will never come again and take note every day…..when it works!

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