Imagine you’ve decided that you’re going to bungee jump. You’ve paid your money, signed the waiver form, received the safety instructions, you’re strapped into a harness, connected to the bungee and assisted onto the ledge.
You’ve seen others go before you who returned exhilarated and unharmed. Your harness feels very tight and secure. You know in your mind that it’s safe.
If you’re a daring person you jump. If you’re conservative in this way perhaps you wouldn’t even consider bungee jumping, except that you made a decision that this will be worth it.
So, you’re at the ledge, it’s your turn, the butterflies are working their magic on your stomach … and then … and then … you step off the ledge.
This is similar to doing the work of shifting corporate culture. It’s never been easy, and yet it’s oh so worth it.
I’ve recently been working with a small business client who has been in business for eight years. Three years ago he shifted his business model and has been struggling ever since then to build his client base. We’re working on the intersection of his brand and his culture, neither one of which are clear. He’s made the decision that he’s willing to change the name and completely re-brand his company and is very clear about the importance of aligning the culture with the value systems he aspires to embody in his new brand.
This is a courageous undertaking because it means that he must step away from the familiar to embrace the unknown. It means making decisions about employee compensation, some remodeling, re-writing and re-designing the website, launching new revenue streams, and the very big leap of changing his company name, logo, look, feel, approach, and strategy—a complete makeover.
Taking the leap into culture also means we have to be completely open to looking at what’s not working, even if that means it relates to us—our own efforts. We have to open our mind to new ways of looking at our work—our compensations systems, policies, and strategies. It means we have to look at our belief systems related to people, the environment, and what a successful business looks like.
As Einstein once said, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Stepping off the ledge is adopting a complete new approach. It’s doing it differently, and that’s scary.
Go ahead take the leap—you might just be overwhelmed by the positive outcomes.
Tip of the Week
As you’ve heard me say before, start small. One does not just jump from living safe to taking huge leaps all at once. Start with a small leap, a new idea that you’ve kept to yourself for example. Instead of keeping the idea close to the vest start talking about it boldly and see what happens. Start a micro business or a sub-brand. Pay your best people more even if it doesn’t seem to make sense financially. Let the designer go with a new creative direction that feels uncomfortable. Find that small step into the realm of uncomfortability and make it. Then watch what happens. If you fail, did you learn? If you succeed, then celebrate.