Thursday, October 30, 2014

As Culture Eats Strategy, Action Eats Fear!

So we are most all familiar with the famous Peter Drucker quote "Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast”. He posits that much good strategy is thwarted by organizational cultures which fights and kills strategies they are uncomfortable with. We know it takes great skill and persistence to shepard innovative strategies through the organization's cultural gauntlets. 

Lately I have been experimenting with a variation on this theme, "Action Eats Fear for (you insert the meal)". :-) In this context, action is the proxy of strategy and fear, of culture.  

Being on sabbatical, I have more time than usual to be plagued and paralyzed by fearful feelings and thoughts. I have found though that when tempted to bog down in this paralysis, “skillful" action is a reliable antidote. As with myself, so with organizations where we often see that in the face of uncertainty, organizations succumb to a "sickness of fear”, a topic my good colleague Bill Drummy recently called to our attention in a TEDMED recap blog post

In situations where we are experiencing a sickness of fear, we are not so much at fault for being inactive as for being unskillful in the actions we take. This is a conundrum as skillful action is often the child of unskillful action that we learn from. This pondered, a good addition to my original premise is that while Action may eat Fear in the short term, Educated Action breeds Success over the longer term. :-D

David Allen’s (of Getting Things Done fame) Next Action is a good practice to execute this Action Eats Fear strategy. Forgetting about the fear of what could go wrong and what resource is lacking, I find that taking the Next Action is like a lit candle which pushes back the darkness of fear. In each Next Action, one more step toward a goal is accomplished, and hopefully learned from. 

I am also finding that sometimes the best Next Action is one of (relative) non-action, taking a nap, sitting in meditation, going for a walk or writing an encouraging note to a colleague who inadvertently crossed my mind. This non-acting action often unblocks the flow of creativity and courage that fear blocks. 

So as Culture Eats Strategy, let’s also remember that Action Eats Fear and be skillful in how we confront to get the change we are working on in the world, however we define it.

Bon appétit! 

2 comments: said...

In my consulting firm, we have a saying:"Fear makes you stupid." So before you take action in a fear based mode, remember what the Dormouse said: "Keep your head."

Anonymous said...

Craig, I really enjoyed seeing this new perspective and how you put this all together. It's my mantra for today -- and maybe tomorrow, too!