Florence R. Webb
Landaff, New Hampshire
So what do a few hundred Association leaders and the Stokefire team have in common?
We’re all on the lookout for Great Ideas that can enhance our performance, improve our outcomes, perfect our practices, or just generally make things work better at work. So when primo brander Tate Linden and I were invited to share our insights about comfort, change, and decision making with the attendees at ASAE’s Great Ideas Conference 2011, we jumped at the chance. (literally).
Turns out our intrepid presenters have quite a bit to share on the subject. My years of experience in public and nonprofit arenas and Tate’s extensive background making and facilitating strategic identity decisions in a range of environments combine to a lot of practice in trying to move people away from the familiar into new territory. From the organization that wanted a new name which would satisfy more than forty separate criteria (including “keep the old acronym”) to the folks who let “not invented here” phobia lead them into a major public humiliation, our presenters shared war stories, theoretical frameworks, and practical tips and tactics with a room full of curious execs.
The message? Fear of risk is a crippling disease which keeps businesses and organizations from recognizing opportunity – and most of us are infected with it whether we know it or not. The very structures and procedures which allow our organizations to function efficiently everyday do double duty as anchors, tying us down and holding us back from pursuing the extraordinary.
The trick is learning to recognize where bureaucratization feeds efficiency and where it impedes vigor. The second trick is learning how to turn it off when it’s a drag instead of a tool, whether that means changing our patterns to disorganize organizational habits or invoking new talent that’s immune to those habits. Whatever tactic we adopt, we can tell that it’s working if we are feeling a choppy mixture of exhilaration, discomfort, anticipation, and concern as we work our way through problem solving and decision options. Because no important growth comes without risk and discomfort. None.