This is what the bridge means to me. I do not know what’s on the other side of the bridge. I fantasize about the opportunities and fear I might be wrong. I have not been pushed forward to the edge of the bridge. The thrill of discovering new land, meeting new friends and hopefully enrich my life with new learning drives me forward. Before I chose to cross the bridge it would be nice to talk to those who have crossed the bridge before me, however I cannot be sure we are talking about the same bridge. I also want to be confident in myself and have something to fall back on.
No ideal state in business
At the foot of the bridge a step into the unknown seems easy. You don’t expect anything dangerous in a Danish forest. There is no risk of loosing yourself or getting lost. Well, of cause you can get lost, but not for days. If the bridge is not stable you might get wet feet, you might even get wet all over if you fall into the lake but that’s about it. However, you will not find this kind of ideal state in business. In a business environment the bridge can be difficult to find in the abundance of information and you are not alone. Other people both inside and outside the organization will have their agenda. The unknown might not look like your vision, the dangers on the bridge might disrupt the strategic plans and suddenly you don’t have the support or resources you expected.
Unsuccessful strategic plans
You have probably heard it before and experienced it yourself; a lot of strategic plans fail. You might blame yourself (or others?) of not executing the plant activities sufficiently or rigorously enough. Did you have the resources and competencies in the organization? Were the vision, objectives and planes communicated clearly to everyone? Did they understand? Did everybody do their best? This usually enlarge the chance of success, McKinsey recently once more made a survey stressing these points.
There is though one thing I missed in that survey: the meaning of work. The thorough understanding of what’s the task were are working on? What’s the purpose of it. John Shook writes about work in e-letter. Creating a meaningful work is not a question of communicating an abstract idea or vision to all the people in the organization. It’s about creating an environment at the workplace where each individual can see that she adds value to a customer, how she can collaborate with others in solving this task and how the work can be improved. How can we “… design roles that enable people to extract meaning from their work to help them create and sustain a culture of work”? (1) That would help me stepping out on the bridge.
Questions for you
- What is the most important challenge for your company right now?
- How does it influence the work in your area of responsibility?
- How is it connected to the work?
- Hirschhorn, Noble, Rankin: Sociotechnical systems in an age of mass customization, 2000