One of the most important things people in organizations must learn is that there are always opportunities to bring about positive change. That ability always begins with a sense of awareness about the system of events, objectives, and activities that swirl about us, immersing us in the flurry of our individual lives and moments.
We can teach ourselves how to take a few steps back to a point from which we can view all that takes place around us as if we were standing apart. It takes effort to acquire this skill but it is still just that, a skill that men and women can learn to master and utilize like any other tool.
Once we are able to gain that perspective, it is a matter of evaluating all of the activities of the organization, system, or process within the context of our essential mission and purpose. What we learn, rather quickly, is that distractions, secondary agendas, and the ongoing friction of human beings working together is that it is easy to be diverted from one’s mission or purpose. Over time, the consequences of these ancillary activities begin to accumulate like weeds in an unkempt garden and they literally eat away at the productive output of the entity.
Periodic maintenance of your organization will bring things back in line, if not permitted to go unnoticed. When too much time has elapsed, it becomes necessary to reconstruct the organization, system, or process to make sure that it is not only focused on mission and purpose but also to assess whether the ramifications of the changes in the world around us have been factored in. Very often changes in the reality of the world in which the entity operates have not been incorporated and the process has become antiquated; sometimes obsolete.
In business, the process of addressing these systemic dysfunctions on a comprehensive basis is often referred to as “turnaround management” or “transformational leadership.” It is all constructed on the premise of one of the basic laws of systems and one of the principles of positive leadership:
“The only point at which a product, service, process, organization, or system can no longer be improved is the precise point in time that it has become obsolete.”
This transformational process is, itself, a complex tool that can be applied to systems of all sizes, shapes, and purposes by positive leaders skilled in the application of “systems thinking.” It is a powerful tool that can transform even something as complicated as our systems of public education.
It does require, however, 1) a willingness to believe that such change is possible and within our power to create, and 2) a willingness on the part of people to come together as a unified and committed force behind a set of shared principles and common purpose.