Sometimes it is difficult for our organizations to take the steps necessary to grow – to change – to leave what is comfortable and strive for something more. We stop ourselves with questions like: How will my organization adapt to the changes? Can we handle the new challenges? Do we have the skills required to meet the new demands? Why should we upset what is already going well?
It makes perfect sense for us to question. In fact, we wouldn’t be doing our jobs as leaders if we didn’t. At some point though, if we want to move forward, we must also move beyond the questions. We must take our own dare, if you will – and D.A.R.E. to grow. Here are some thoughts to get us started.
D = Discover
Our first step in this process is Discovery -- gaining a clear understanding of what really matters to our customers and prospects, to the market, to our operations, and to our organization as a whole. By looking at our organizations carefully from both the inside-out and the outside-in, we create the best possible opportunity to identify game-changing and growth-enabling insights.
These insights might come from simply listening and being completely present to the people in our organization, our customers, experts in the marketplace, and frankly, anyone who interacts with our product/service. Or, they might surface in unexpected places: market research, internal operations and data analysis (areas discussed in my earlier blog, 3 Top Sources of Strategic Marketing Insights). Involving as many people and approaches as possible in the discovery process enriches the pool of possibilities and creates a basis for alignment, our next step in D.A.R.E.
A = Align
Once we discover the insight that we want to leverage and clearly articulate what we now see as possible, it is critical that we align our organization to deliver it. In his book The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni emphasizes the importance of clarity in driving alignment. (Pete Hayes, with Chief Outsiders, provides a concise introduction the concept of clarity in his blog, Getting Naked with Patrick Lencioni.)
The point here is that fully leveraging our insights is tied to and, in fact, dependent upon the solid alignment of our team. The clearer our people can become about where we are heading, why we are going there, the role that each of them plays in getting there, and the rewards that will result for the company and each of them, the greater is the potential for our success.
R = Resolve
Following these two steps, discovery (identifying the insight) and alignment (unifying our team), we stand in resolve – the R in D.A.R.E – our commitment to do whatever it takes to achieve our new objectives. This personal commitment from us directly impacts that from every member of our team. Inspiring our team to think, create and collaborate together comes from our resolve to create a new context for our organization. Championing an environment where everyone is free to fail inside of this commitment will help to ensure that we and our organization “pull out all of the stops” on our quest to grow. Our leadership here is paramount in moving our organization forward.
E = Execute
With discovery, alignment and resolve under our belts, at the end of the day, it boils down to execution. Armed with our key insight(s) and an organization aligned and resolved to leverage this insight, implementation is the focus.
It begins with a “plan in sand” (our collective best thinking on how to get from A to B) with established milestones and built-in measurements to help us pinpoint and understand our progress and make the necessary adjustments along the way. In my experience, excellence in execution in all disciplines in an organization is essential to success. A good strategy implemented flawlessly trumps a great strategy implemented poorly. As we refine and redefine our business to capitalize on our discovered insights, alignment and resolve, execution plays a critical role.
Jim Collins provides us with powerful concepts to help us think about execution in Great by Choice: SMaC (Specific, Methodical and Consistent) and the 20-Mile March. Chief Outsiders colleague Pete Hayes offers a succinct introduction to these concepts in 2 blogs: Jim Collins' Great By Choice: SMaC Develops Your "Brand" and 9 Disciplines to Activate Collins’ 20-Mile March.
In sum, while change can be difficult and challenging, taking the necessary steps outlined above can help us reach our goals. When we take these steps, we move toward ensuring our viability and long-term success as an organization – we, in fact, D.A.R.E. to grow.