Own the Ideal

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I’m working on creating a piece of analysis that is very complex and needs to be understood easily. It’s an attempt to assign value to a variety of intangibles. It will require a combination of the best strategic analysis models in a unique way. Not sure if it’s even possible.

If we pull it off it will be a real breakthrough. You probably won’t read about it anywhere but here but it’s a big deal for our work.

In an ideal world our team will answer all the questions, solve the equations, and discover the combinations that will give us what we need.

My job is to own the ideal for as long as possible. I build the vision of what can possibly be done without knowing the answers. A little like announcing the quest to walk on the moon.

Think about something you have started based on an ideal solution.

Now, we may or may not reach the target in the pure form we’re hoping for. After all there are customers in the equation. So, who knows?

Let’s consider the team. They want to create a solution. Barriers are encountered. The solution appears impossible. The brilliant minds get stuck. This is a crucial crossroad. We can give up of course. More than likely though we’ll compromise and justify the reduced deliverable.

As a leader you and I are of course human too. We ride the same rollercoaster. Here’s how we have to be different. We have to own the ideal. The ideal must remain alive, just a bit longer. We can’t settle. Yet.

We may ultimately settle, but we must be the last to settle.

When problems are encountered the leader (not ignoring the ideal) is the extra bump that gets to an innovation.

The questions you ask reinforce the ideal.

By definition you are being unrealistic, at least to someone who thinks there is no solution. You are pushing. You are stretching. You are inpatient. You’re probably a bit irritating.

With the right people this ideal will be a driver to extraordinary effort.

Your team will embrace this if you’ve established a high performing environment. Until then you likely should explain what you’re doing. “Clearly we’re still pursuing the magic bullet. I know it seems unrealistic and frustrating. Let’s not give up yet.”

What happens when the solution isn’t the ideal? When is it time to pivot to a new ideal? That’s a judgement call when you feel everyone has exhausted all possibilities and have found a different viable alternative.

The most important component at this point is to reconcile the final solution to the original ideal and share why you’ve backed off the ideal. This isn’t a game. The team has worked hard. They may feel a sense of failure when in fact they’ve created something truly innovative.

The act of innovation is a learned habit and takes practice. An endurance needs to build up within your team.

Working toward an ideal is what allows great things to happen.

To do this week: Think about how you impact the endurance of your team when working toward an ideal. Are you stretching enough?

Let me know how it’s goes. Click the “comments” box below to participate in an on-going discussion via LinkedIn.

Jim Canterucci

I don't know everything. But I want to. The focus of our firm, Transition Management Advisors, is to develop leadership capabilities to create a championship culture, generate innovation, and successfully lead the resulting changes.

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On October 11, 2017
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