You can’t fix stupid! There is a popular comedian that has made his living speaking on this theme. It has become so popular that many in the general public have made it a catchphrase as well. However, I don’t agree with this philosophy or even the idea that things can’t be fixed. I believe that you CAN fix stupid by following a few simple steps.
The concept of “being stupid” is really due to one of, or a combination of, several issues:
- A lack of understanding of how to evaluate the goals or how to reach them,
- A lack of understanding how to eliminate unnecessary goals or ideas,
- A lack of education on the subject, and
- A lack of motivation.
The first step is evaluation. This is understanding and acknowledging the who, what, when, where, why and how of the goal. Before a project can begin, we have to understand what we want to accomplish as well as the assets available. The goal has to follow the SMART outline so that the project will be accepted by the staff. I believe that many businesses are believers in this management style, however they fail in the implementation step. My goal for this step has always been to evaluate how the staff should be involved in reaching the next step and then insuring that we continue to advance towards the goal. Once the mission is identified, we can’t afford to have anything stand in the way of it being accomplished.
Second is elimination. This step involves identifying any excess baggage and areas that are slowing or hampering the progress of reaching the goal and eliminating the problem. This includes systems, people, protocols and even unnecessary mini-goals. I am a firm believer that a goal should be a “living document”. This simply means that while the overall goal would be constant, implementation would continually be changing and adapting as new ideas, laws and technology evolve. You must maintain an attitude of awareness and adaptability due to the frequent changes in technology and laws. An example of this is the issue of law firms being owned only by attorneys. There is a movement by some attorney groups to change the laws so that law firms could be publicly traded or, at a minimum, have additional owners that are not attorneys. I believe this concept will gain ground over the next several years and firms need to be prepared to address this issue.
Education is the third step. This is one of the most important steps. A lack of education creates ill will, discourse, rumors and misunderstanding. A lack of understanding creates a “what’s in it for them,” attitude that can be difficult to overcome. With the proper education, acceptance is created and with acceptance comes assurance and the inclination to share with others. A sharing attitude is exactly what you want the staff to possess. The staff has to be educated sufficiently in all the benefits that the project can provide until they reach the point that they are motivated enough to share the brand with others, that this is the” place to be”.
Fourth and final step is motivation. How do we keep the project interesting to everyone involved? This can usually be accomplished through education of the goal and helping the individual to understand “what’s in it for me”. This step requires constant contact through every avenue available so that the brand is at the forefront of every staff member’s mind and thought process. My vision would be that every staff member would always be thinking about how they could improve and enhance their current projects while strengthening the brand. Motivation is a lot easier to accomplish when you believe in your product and goals and will do anything to see them succeed.
These steps are most effective when performed in the sequence that I have laid out. However, they are also continuous in nature. You are always going to be educating staff members as new technology and programs are implemented. In addition, you will be in a constant state of evaluation/elimination of programs figuring out what works and getting rid of what doesn’t.
Being a leader requires a lot of the characteristics and talents portrayed in the old movie, The Wizard of Oz. You have to be prepared for anything and be able to think on your feet. Leadership takes courage to implement new ideas; intelligence to be able to think critically, analyze problems and come up with solutions; a heart so that you can connect with people to understand their passions, fears and desires; commitment to persevere to the end; and unlike the Wizard, the ability to be genuine and trustworthy so that when the curtain is pulled back, people can see you for who you really are. It will require the ability to be forward thinking while keeping the big picture in mind.
Keeping these steps in mind, while staying in a constant mindset of being aware of new solutions in technology, using social media to promote the brand and leveraging programs designed to bring ROI to the company will help you to “fix stupid” and be the type of leader your people need and deserve. Keep your mind on the mission.