Organizations, like people, have a tendency to get stuck. It is inevitable that inertia sets in and the patterns of past behaviors will repeat themselves.
How often have you noticed that the processes that were mediocre yesterday are repeated today? How often have you noticed that when a new idea comes into the organization, it is only a matter of time before it gets lost in the maze of structural confusion? How often have you noticed new ideas getting off the ground, but fizzle out for the want of momentum? If you're like most of us, you likely noticed the phenomena of organizational "stuckness."
Leadership is often credited as the solution for stuckness. Unfortunately, leadership has become an amorphous idea, far removed from its core implication. If you want to get unstuck, if you want to move ideas then you can't simply focus on your likability or your inspirational skills, or wonder if you are more transformational than transactional--you have to focus on the pragmatic skills of execution. The real question is: Can you move your agenda?
Last week my colleagues and I had the opportunity to speak about leadership to a group of the most innovative, creative, and talented engineers in the world. Seventy people, each one brimming with engineering and innovative brilliance, were gathered in one room.
In all honesty, we had nothing in terms of innovation and creativity to offer them. They knew how to ideate, they knew how to come up with great ideas, and they were the international crme de la crme of ingenuity.
What could we offer them?
A very simple idea--that is that their good idea isn't enough. They have to move that idea through a maze of obstacles, through perpetual resistance, through hesitation and complacency. In short, their challenge is to become an "Agenda Mover." That means they have to develop the political skills of execution. And that means not simply being charismatic or brilliant, but it means being able to push their ideas and program ahead.
These ideas work not only for top engineers, but they can work for you, in any organization of any size. You to focus on how your ideas will be received by others. You don't have to worry about the quality of your idea, but you do have to give some thought to how you're going to pitch that idea.
You have to be politically empathic, anticipate the agendas of others, interpret intentions, focus your message, make it clear to others what's in it for them, and sustain your campaign. If you want to move your ideas ahead you have to be politically astute.
Agenda Movers have mastered these micro-skills and understand thoroughly what it takes to execute. Agenda Movers understand that creativity and good ideas are abundant, but what is in short supply are individuals who have the special skills to turn creative innovative ideas into concrete realities.
Introducing the concept of the Agenda Mover to seventy top engineers reaffirmed my belief that if you want to create an innovative organization that is resistant to stagnation, if you want to be an entrepreneur that truly succeeds, if you want to pursue career goals that fulfill your potential, the skills you must master are the political skills of an Agenda Mover.