Collins wrote “One of the dominant themes from our research is that breakthrough results come about by a series of good decisions, diligently executed and accumulated one on top of another. Of course, the good-to-great companies did not have perfect track record. But on the whole, they made many more good decisions than bad ones, and they made many more good decisions than the comparison companies. Even more important, on the really big choices.,,they were remarkably on target.”
Confront the Brutal Facts, Yet Never Lose Faith
Too many companies fail to confront their brutal facts. They neglect facts that will inhibit or even condemn their success. Unfortunately, many people do the same thing. Others do not. Collins wrote “When…you start with an honest and diligent effort to determine the truth of the situation, the right decisions often become self-evident. Not always, of course, but often. And even if all decisions do not become self-evident one thing is certain: You absolutely cannot make a series of good decisions without first confronting the brutal facts. The good-to-great companies operated in accordance with this principle, and the comparison companies generally did not.”
Create a “Climate Where the Truth is Heard”
Whether you use the principles to move your organization—or you personally—to greatness, you need a climate where the truth is heard.. Once again, I quote Collins “ There’s a huge difference between the opportunity to "’have your say’ and the opportunity to be heard The good-to-great leaders understood this distinction, creating a culture wherein people had a tremendous opportunity to be heard and, ultimately, for the truth to be heard. How do you create a climate where the truth is heard? We offer four basic practices:
- Lead with questions, not answers: questions generate thought, answers stifle it
- Engage in dialogue and debate, not coercion: honest back and forth
- Conduct autopsies without blame” evaluate projects and operations with fear
- Build ‘red flag’ mechanisms: create systems that help you identify potential problems”
Following the same approach about yourself allows you to hear the truth about you—good or bad. Hearing the truth allows you to confront the brutal facts and change your behavior, interactions, and even your character. First, however, you must create a climate where people feel comfortable telling you the truth.
The Stockdale Paradox
Admiral Jim Stockdale was the highest ranking officer housed in the “Hanoi Hilton” prisoner-of-war camp during the Vietnam War. He survived 20 rounds of torture, deprivation, and isolation for eight years. He developed a philosophy that sustained him during the ordeal. Jim Collins called it The Stockdale Paradox. Simply stated: “you must retain faith that you will prevail in the end and you must also confront the most brutal facts of your current reality.”
“Our good-to-great companies…all embraced the Stockdale Paradox. It didn’t matter how bleak the situation or how stultifying their mediocrity, they all maintained unwavering faith that they would not just survive, but prevail as a great company. And yet, at the same time, they became relentlessly disciplined at confronting the most brutal facts of their current reality.”
I found, for myself, that the dual belief of the paradox allows for great growth. Maintaining the faith while confronting the brutal facts stimulates personal improvement.
Wednesday we will examine how to create your own hedgehog concept to focus your thoughts