We all have moments where we lose track of things, where we lose our mind and say things we should’t say. A few months ago, during a call with a client, the CEO of the organization did just that. For the last 6 months I’ve been consulting for this organization, helping them think and develop a new strategic direction, and culture to support that direction.
During the call, the CEO made a remark that baffled everyone. Specifically, about the clients they serve. The strategic direction we set at the start of the year called for targeting a different group of clients, while transitioning existing clients to this new direction or “firing” them.
The CEO seemed to have forgotten this detail, telling people on the marketing team that their targeting was wrong. I quickly jumped in to clear things out, reminding the CEO about the strategic direction they had committed to. The meeting continued, but people were baffled and confused. I had a chat with the CEO after the meeting, he told me he let his emotions get the better of him and got back to old habits.
Letting go of old ideas and beliefs is hard if you’re emotionally attached to them
This is a situation that happens often, especially when the founder has an emotional attachment to the past. Unfortunately, often it leads to failure in the long-term. When you look at your business differently, you have to follow through with it.
With this particular client, we are evolving their existing business model towards a new one. That means letting go of old beliefs and habits, which some people are still attached to. As the CEO, you have to lead the charge and set the example. Confusion at the top means confusion in the ranks.
How do you commit to new strategic direction? You practice what you preach. You model the behavior. You talk about it consistently.
Bottom line: Established organizations fail because they miss the future. The reasons for missing the future are plenty, but the main culprit is habits die hard. Just as people are their habits, so are organizations. Changing, transforming, means adopting new habits. People will revert to old habits and beliefs if they don’t really understand and commit to both thinking and acting differently.