Why does change have to suck?

If you have read my blog very much you know that I am a huge Jack Welch fan.  Read here and >  Jack Welch to learn more about Jack and his philosophies.

In Jacks first year as CEO of General Electric he visited one of the companies businesses which was a facility that built nuclear reactor plants in San Jose, California.  The leadership team at that plant presented a rosy plan of how that they were going to build three new reactors a year.  Looking backward, that was a reasonable assumption since General Electric had been selling three or four reactors a year since the 1970’s.  However, it was 1981, just two years after the Three Mile Nuclear disaster in Pennsylvania. General Electric had not received an order for new reactors for two years now.  Jack listened to the team tell him how it was now coming back and that the future is bright.

Jack told them that they should quit building reactors and instead focus on selling nuclear fuel and servicing the 72 active reactors that they have already built.  The team was shocked and told Jack that he was crazy to think that would be a great model.  They said it would kill morale and they would never be able to bounce back from attempting this new business model.

As great leaders do, Jack didn’t listen to them and re-staffed the business unit to do exactly what he had proposed.  And the business went from $14 million to $116 in just two years.  20 years later when Jack retired not one new single order for a nuclear reactor was ever issued in the United States.

So what can we learn here?   Here are my observations.

  • When you are too close to a project, just like the leadership team at the nuclear reactor building plant, it is hard for you to see the bigger picture.  You get so focused on trying to save what is gone, or eventually will be gone, that you try to save something that shouldn’t be saved.  The culture at that time in the United States didn’t want to build more nuclear power plants. Sometimes you have to step away or have someone else come in and give you a reality check.
  • A car on a flat street in neutral doesn’t move does it?  Nope.  The only way a car moves is if it is in drive or reverse.  So that means a car can only go forwards or backwards. And that is just like us as well.  We as humans can go only one of two ways.  We are either looking forward and moving forward, or we are looking backwards because we are moving backwards.  My advice is keep your eyes forward and always be looking out to see what is next and where you are going and where could you be going.  That is what the leadership team should have been doing at the nuclear reactor plant.
  • Don’t abandon what you are doing, instead pivot. Instead of building nuclear plant, GE started servicing them.  Who better to service them then the people who built them?  Nobody.  They didn’t leave the core business they just did something different within it.

If you look at this example.  The change that the leadership team needed to experience didn’t have to suck did it?  As it turns out it didn’t.  Nope they pivoted their business, saw the bigger picture and moved forward with a new business model that actually earned them a lot more money.

This is the same for you.  Change doesn’t have to suck for you either.  How can you pivot to something new in your life?  What are the areas in your life that you keep looking back on? You should be looking forward.  My hope is that you haven’t had something similar to a nuclear reactor plant blow up in your life, causing you great harm.  This is very doubtful.  But even if it has, pivot and use your skills and talents differently to serve or make changes that you know need to be made so you can live the life you want to live.

To your success and your future.

Getting out of the pile…A

Getting out of the pile was something I just did by being who I am, but later learned what it meant from another great leader and quasi-mentor for me, the famous Jack Welch.  Jack Welch says it best.  In every company, every organization, there is a pile, a pile of people all (well most) trying to climb the ladder within that organization.  So how do you get out of that pile?  I accomplished getting out of the pile in three organizations that I have worked for and reflecting on my ascension of getting out of the pile was unique, but revolved around the same core principles in all three company’s no matter what the challenges were in the very different businesses.

I am planning on writing on this topic over the next three blogs.  I don’t really have a defined number of principles, maybe I will after I blog, just a lot of philosophical beliefs and passion that I hope to illustrate.

Results:  This one is number one for a reason:  It doesn’t matter what you do, if you don’t have good results, none of the other stuff I write even matters.  In the Five Major Pieces of the Life Puzzle: Jim Rohn says “Results are the best measurement of human progress.”  “We must make measurable progress in reasonable time.”  Your results are in direct proportion to the activity and effort you put in to pursuing results for a given goal.  In the first sentence I carefully chose the word “good” results, because I believe you don’t have to have “great” results to get out of the pile, when you have good results along with some of the other principles I will discuss, I have shown you can get out of the pile.  I have had great results in some cases and good results in some cases.

Give more than what is asked for:  Nothing earth shattering here, but profound nonetheless.  If you are sitting there reading this. Ask your self:  “Are you really giving more than what is asked of you?”  Zig Ziglar says it like this:  “When you do more than you get paid for, eventually you’ll be paid for more than you do.”  I have worked with lots of people who think they are doing more than they are asked to do, and I have been one of those people. Ex: My first leadership position I had a terrible boss. This person, was the one who didn’t give any credit, always criticized, and we really just had a bad relationship.  Guess what: That person wasn’t going anywhere. So I had to change.  So what did I do?  I just worked harder.  I made sure I beat them to work everyday, I went way above and beyond in everything I did. Our relationship changed after that, but for things to change I had to change, the only thing I have control over, is me.

Never be satisfied:  This is a hard one for me to articulate and it is also one that I struggle with everyday on trying to find that perfect balance. As a leader you do have to celebrate the little wins, if not your team will want to shoot you, because you are never happy.  However that is when you are a leader, as a person trying to get out of the pile, your manager will appreciate the fact that you believe that there is always a better way and you can do better next time.  Never being satisfied will keep you hungry, it will keep you pursuing, it will keep you striving. Leaders in an organization appreciate the people who are constantly seeking excellence and those who seek more, better, and faster.

Choose well:  Who do you associate with.  I learned this lesson a few times.  In every organization there are different people within a team, or department, and the organization. Typically four groups.  The Ninja’s:  They are the ones that are the silent killers.  The ones who gossip, they are not bought in, and really hurt the culture of a team.  Good leaders typically sniff them out.  Hostages:  They are the ones that don’t want to be there and think that every thing sucks and in their minds they feel like they are a hostage, and really they do have an option to quit, but they never do, they just complain all of the time. Vacationers:  Just seeing how long they can hang out and not do too much.  Don’t really add very much to the organization.  Hanging out for the time being until something better comes along. Learners and Doer’s: These are the ones that seek to add to the organization, they constantly volunteer and go above and beyond in everything they do. So if your want to get out of the pile who should you associate with?  I think it is obvious.

Stay tuned for future blogs and insights on how to get out of the pile.