“The game we are playing in my business is creating powerful performance. I keep finding myself dealing with crisis and breakthrough at the same time; it seems that some aspect of our infrastructure or culture or both limits our capacity for consistent performance. How do we make the switch to being high performing always?”
Well, in short, the answer is: You don’t. There is an old adage that goes, “there is one way to stop having problems in life – die.” And dramatic though this is, it does point to an understanding of life that is valuable and carries over well to business. Problems do not end, we just get new ones. True mastery is in being able to choose your problems.
In business, we tend to produce the results that we manage for. In our experience, the greatest volatility comes from the combination of striving for high performance and managing for consistency. It is a little like taking on the project of building a marvelous house but only measuring the foundation. Consistency will only take you so far and no farther. Instead, it is wise to notice where your breakdowns (crises) occur.
Are they persistent; meaning the same type of breakdown happening repeatedly (we call this a chronic breakdown)? Or are the breakdowns new each time? If the breakdowns are in new territory each time, congratulations – you are stretching the limits of your company, and the breakdowns are a sign that you are expanding into new territory.
Look closely – can you afford the breakdowns? If not, you are going to have to either get better at anticipating them (management) or slow down. If you can afford the breakdowns, then it is time to give up the idea that breakdowns shouldn’t happen. Get used to them. Get coaching in the midst of them. You will get good at resolving them and you will find that breakdown is access to breakthrough.
If, however, the breakdowns are occurring as chronic (the same type of breakdown happening repeatedly), the breakdowns need to be addressed differently. A chronic breakdown occurs when, in addressing the breakdown, you are not looking deeply enough. You are addressing the symptom, not the cause. It is time to look at the breakdowns you are facing and identify the common threads. Once you can see the common threads, then they themselves can be dealt with as the breakdown.
In growth oriented, high performing companies, there are some common stresses. They are not universal, but give us some places to inquire. Structure is one such place. If the structure is properly designed, everything that needs to be monitored is being monitored and breakdowns can be averted. Where are you not managing key factors in the areas of concern where your breakdowns are occurring?
As always we welcome all comments on these articles. We also welcome questions from our readers. Please feel free to send in your questions.