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When is it the responsibility of leaders to do some following?

By Andrew Pollack on 05/12/2008 at 11:35 AM EDT

Imagine our leadership taking polls, talking with important people, and building support for something big. The big thing is expensive. Its going to be controversial. If all goes well it will change the world. What if it doesn't go well? Of course it will go well. We're big and powerful. We have the best technology and we have the best force for deploying that technology. We know things. Sure, there are dissenters. They don't matter. Our constituency really likes our Big Idea. We'll even bring in some of the most outspoken critics and make them part of the team. Then they'll have to buy in to what we're doing. The stories they write will be positive, and that will help.

The first big steps go really well. The Big Idea seems to be going very well. Then the unthinkable. Things don't go as planned. Our leadership skipped over too many steps because they were so focused on the push for Big Idea. The fundamentals that have always made them so successful were glossed over this time. The Big Idea was so powerful that it didn't need the fundamentals in place to work.

Only it did.

The big idea isn't working. Even much of the core constituency that was for it in the first place are frustrated and worried about the long term success. To make matters worse, not only doesn't there seem to be a plan in place to fix things and get back on track -- there doesn't even seem to be an acknowledgment that one is needed.

How long do we wait? How long do we tolerate our leadership pushing its Big Idea at the expense of the values and characteristics we hold most dear? How do we make a leadership listen to us when it is so isolated as to hear only the voices of its supporters?

Does anyone not know what Big Idea I'm talking about yet? Without me having to mention it by name, it should be obvious to almost everyone reading this message. Why? Because it is so clearly the truth. It is so resoundingly obvious to most of us by now, that Jung could use it as an example of the collective unconsciousness that forms within a culture.

It is high time for our leaders to recognize that the Big Idea has failed.

There are  - loading -  comments....

re: When is it the responsibility of leaders to do some following?By Axel on 05/12/2008 at 12:11 PM EDT
One of the political books I enjoyed reading this year was Fukuyama, After the
Neocons. Interesting. Especially as the author knows the theorists from the
Funny you mention that...By Andrew Pollack on 05/12/2008 at 12:13 PM EDT could be that I'm talking about more than one Big Idea at the same
time. ;-)
re: When is it the responsibility of leaders to do some following?By Paul Gagnon on 05/12/2008 at 04:32 PM EDT
could it be websphere/portal/workplace? or vista?
re: When is it the responsibility of leaders to do some following?By Bruce Perry on 05/12/2008 at 05:02 PM EDT
Websphere/Workplace or the Iraq war?
re: When is it the responsibility of leaders to do some following?By Paul Gagnon on 05/12/2008 at 05:07 PM EDT
or social security, or global warming,

or giving up individual immunity at tribal council...
re: When is it the responsibility of leaders to do some following?By Axel on 05/13/2008 at 04:11 AM EDT
Its not only the management with its big idea, that is simple, neat and plain
wrong, because it misses a lot of details in real world complexities.
If new elements are added it needs a knowledgable community that is able to
express well fundamented critics, that hit on deeper pain points. Shallow and
general critic often doesn't help.
In the real world great ideas often are only the very initial origin of
successfull change. They pass through a painfull process of refinement,
rasping, partial abadonment, adding new elements, etc. After that process we
might get a usefull outcome from the initial great idea.
If it results successfull, marketing tends to sell the initial idea and not the
complex process that makes the idea implementable in the real world.
And as organizations allways are inflicted by internal irrationalities, you
need knowledgeable people on the outside that spot the pain points.
Cedric Beust, Ted Neward, Gavin King, Rod Johnson and Hani Suleiman. Such
people have a high value for their community as a whole.
re: When is it the responsibility of leaders to do some following?By Kerr on 05/13/2008 at 05:40 AM EDT
Hurm... apart form all the "our" leadership stuff, I'd say OOXML.
re: When is it the responsibility of leaders to do some following?By Peter Herrmann on 05/16/2008 at 07:52 AM EDT
Like... Notes?

That's not a guess, it's a stunned response to the fact that its not been

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