Paul Arden summed it up best when he said, “Too many people spend too much time trying to perfect something before they actually do it. Instead of waiting for perfection, run with what you have, and fix it along the way”.
Over the past few weeks, we have discussed change, we have discussed how best to achieve transformation as well as how we must be willing to move quickly and decisively to enact change and transformation. An additional element that often hinders change and transformation is the expectation of perfection. When communities, businesses, and media companies embark on change, especially unknown change, they tend to measure their success based on perfection or how well they do as it relates to the original goals. Even worse, many get caught in the trap of seeking perfection and ignoring the greatness that has or is occurring right before them.
One of the greatest attributes of transformation leadership is understanding nearly every worthwhile transformation will involve pivots in new directions deviating from the original plans. Transformational leadership is truly an art. Transformational leadership is the art of understanding when to pivot, how to pivot, where to pivot and finally, when to do it again. Time and time again, I have seen where communities and businesses have become bogged-down in attempting to create the perfect model or execute the perfect plan. While we might give them an A+ for sticking to the script, they ultimately fail because they are unwilling to adjust the script. As they say, a great sailor can sail their boat in all sorts of winds by simply adjusting their sails.
A great example of being willing to adjust your sails might be Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia. Back in 2007, they rented out air mattresses in San Francisco to conference attendees due to lack of available hotel rooms for a nearby conference. They appropriately called their business Air Bed and Breakfast. However, it wasn’t very long before they realized unless there were conferences in the area, their business model wasn’t sustainable. They were forced to rethink their entire business model. They made what proved to a monumental pivot and took the concept nationwide for all travelers regardless of their circumstances. It turns out that pivot is worth about $50 billion today and growing. Had they stuck with the original plan, they may well have given up and AirBNB may not exist today.
I have seen entire industries, communities and businesses racked with the inability to pivot when pivoting was crucial. Group think as an industry or community can lead to the demise of entire industries and even communities. Group think assures the group will rarely innovate or make the changes required to survive. As we have mentioned, leadership is very crucial when it comes to change and transformation. One must be able to convince others of the need to alter course and must be able to provide and instill confidence in the entire team to affect the most viable change or alterations. When the team has faith in the transformational leadership skills of their leaders, there is little that can stop the team from achieving greatness regardless of the obstacles getting in the way.
Those leaders and individuals with the ability to build community and business dreams are rare. When a community or business comes across these rare individuals, they must not hesitate to empower them and support them. Every community and business achieving greatness has done so because a dreamer believed in what that community or business could become. They have achieved their greatness behind a person or leader willing to take a chance. They have done so behind a person willing to accept greatness in lieu of any initial perfection. They have done so because they embraced what could be and did not settled for the current status-quo.
We will close this column by bringing together the message of many columns. The message of change and transformation must be coupled with communication and aggressive action. But all of it will be for naught if we only focus on perfection in lieu of accepting greatness at the beginning. Achieving greatness as a community or a business will come to those harnessing the power of change, communication, teamwork, innovation and the joy of transformation. But above all, don’t let perfect be the enemy of great!
John A. Newby, author of the "Building Main Street, Not Wall Street " column and CEO of Truly-Local, LLC which is dedicated to assisting communities create excitement, energy and combine synergies with their local media where LOCAL is often lost to the Internet and out-of-town owned companies. His email: john@360MediaAlliance.net.