A vision of the future…picture of perfection…clear direction where we are going.
When you ask a diverse group consisting of a football club director, oil company executive and Microsoft board member their views on Leadership, those words about ‘direction’ and ‘vision’ echo again and again. At least they did at Clarity’s “Leadership” event at OXO Tower this week where they were the keynote attractions. But why just the Leadership of envisioning the ‘goal’ (sometimes a ‘big, hairy, audacious goal’). Why not the Management discipline of envisioning the disaster, the complete and utter failure?
Gary Klein proposes the notion of a ‘premortem’. Sort of a pre-emptive 5 Whys…
- “Imagine that we are year into the future. We implemented the plan as it now exists. The outcome was a disaster. Please take 5 to 10 minutes to write a brief history of that disaster.”
The speaker who I came to hear in the first place, Philiippa Snare (one of the top marketing execs in the UK) placed a big emphasis on positivity in attitude an emotion from everyone on her team. Her dismissal of ‘devils advocates’ sparked a discussion in the Q&A where she clarified her position. Naysayers who challenge the goal itself she has little patience for. Gadflies who challenge the path to the get to goal, but are totally committed to the goal, are embraced. The focus of the latters’ challenges are in the end (or for the ‘ends’) completely positive.
It echoes another term of Klein’s which embraces this failure of conformity – the ‘adversarial collaborator’. A sort of a personal whistle-blower who injects a diversity in thinking.