You need to know where you’re going

Seth Godin reckons you need to see the end before you begin the journey and this is what makes it so difficult to be a leader.

To be able to be a leader you have to be able to paint a picture of where you want to go and know where you want to end up before you even set foot out of the proverbial door. That doesn’t mean you have to know how you’ll get there but you have to claim the destination.

All of us are good at dreaming about alternative futures. The difference is that once you say it out loud you have with the fact that it might not work or even that it will more than likely fail and humans aren’t trained for this.

Seth’s homework for this lecture was to write down where we want to go and what we’re scared about if we don’t get there.

Me, I want to go to many different places, both personally, professionally and there are places I want my organisation to go. I have many different pictures I want to paint but they are created with similar brush strokes.

There are two strands to my work:

  • a massive transformation programme involving the whole organisation
  • a different way of working for my department

The journey on the transformation programme will be complex with many twists and turns and possibly some dead ends.

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The final picture is simple – an online platform designed with the user in the centre that allows quick and easy transactions. The mantra is ‘do it like Amazon’. From the backend of the platform the organisation should be able to gather customer information to allow for service improvement as well as data to help us understand our customers. Overall we should create an efficient organisation as we go.

There are many people involved in this project and sometimes it feels out-of-control, drowning in data and outstanding tasks. Sometimes things are crystal-clear.

I will also share this nugget from another hero of mine, Daniel Kahneman:

“Plans for reform almost always produce many winners and some losers while achieving an overall improvement. If the affected parties have any political influence, however, potential losers will become more active and determined than potential winners; the outcome will be based in their favour and inevitably more expensive and less effective than planned. Loss aversion is a powerful conservative force that favors minimal changes from the status quo in the lives of institutions.”

What I fear about this is failure. Failing to make a tool that works for the customer and the organisation. Failing to complete on time and on budget. Failing, failing, failing.

The department picture is a comms department that uses customer insight to create targeted campaigns that will change behaviour and lives for the better. Campaigns based on evidence that can be evaluated to show our worth as a team.

Embed from Getty Images

I have no fear for this picture because I am confident about the journey and the people who’ll be taking this road trip with. It feels more like I can follow the route in my head and recognise landmarks along the way.

This journey has fewer unknowns and I’m on the trip with people wo also know where they are going and can maybe take a share of the driving.

Its not too late to join me on Seth Godin’s Leadership Workshop on Udemy. You should come along for the ride.




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