Leadership: the courage to be different!!
Let’s start this article with an example. We go back to the beginning of this century. You still remember how big the pages of the newspapers were? Did you ever ask yourself why they are so insane big? Or did you ever try to read the newspaper outside when it was windy and you were busier by preventing the newspaper to fly away? Or did you ever tried to read those big newspapers in the train with neighbors on your right and left side? Why were those pages so bloody large? Maybe because it was cheaper to print on these ridiculously big pages? Actually, not. It is just the opposite. It is more expensive to print on larger pages. But why did they do it then till around 2005? Why the famous newspapers like The Times, The Guardian, The New York Times, The Washington Post kept till then us to struggle with their large newspapers?
This is what happened. In 1712 the British newspapers were confronted with new tax rules. They would be taxed on the number of pages they published. So, editors decided to print the news on enormous pages, and fewer of them, creating the broadsheet format. To pay less taxes. The original tax disappeared in 1855 but, despite being considerably more expensive, the format persisted. At the end of 1999 a free Newspaper called “Metro” entered the British market. And it was printed on tabloid format. Much handier and nowadays the standard. After a few years “The Independent” was the first in the UK to abandon the broadsheet and “going tabloid”. Their sales increased. Soon “The Times” followed and then “The Guardian”, all to their benefit! But why took it so long? Had they never thought before to print on tabloid format? Off course they did. Many times, over the years, someone would bring it up: “Shouldn’t we print on smaller pages?”. But management always dismissed immediately the idea. “No-one is doing it” or most of the time: “The Customer doesn’t want it”. But actually, we did!!
Conforming and copying of the behavior of others leads often to strange and irrational behavior. And we see that often in the world of business. Copying or automatically doing what the competitor also is doing.
Every existing player in the business is afraid to take a risk and take a deep dive. Most businesses have examples of this type of management but nobody remembers why they are doing it that way. But hardly anybody dares to challenge it. And that is where the business opportunity lies. If you’re the first to do it differently, it might just bring you a lot of money.
But to be able to do it differently, you first need to have a vision. And from that vision you can create a strategy. The important difference between vision and strategy is that a good vision gives an answer on why, where, for which and in which; a strategy deals with what and how.
A good vision tells us in a concise, clear and systematic manner:
· Why an organization exists (the higher goal)
· For which an organization stands (core values)
· In which the organization excels (core qualities)
· Where does the organization goes to (the daring goal)
Think now for a moment if you can give an answer on the 4 points mentioned above in your organization.
If you can’t, don’t panic, a lot of companies don’t have a clear vision, or the company has one, but don’t follow and act regarding their vision. But one thing is clear and proven over and over: Companies with a vision based on why, where, for which and in which are performing significantly better than their competitors.
An example. Cirque de Soleil is coming again to Bucharest in May 2017. And again, all shows will be sold out. Like in the rest of the world. Cirque de Soleil started in 1984 with the vision to reinvent the circus.
From a group of 20 street performers at its beginnings in 1984, Cirque du Soleil is now a major Quebec-based organization providing high-quality artistic entertainment. The company has close to 4,000 employees, including 1,300 performing artists from close to 50 different countries. Cirque du Soleil has brought wonder and delight to more than 155 million spectators in more than 300 cities in over forty countries on six continents.
The higher goal (why does the organization exist) of Cirque du Soleil is to ‘invoke the imagination, provoke the senses and evoke the emotions of people around the world’.
20 street performers started to reinvent the circus, not copying others!
The most difficult part in creating the vision is the acknowledge that you need one and want to implement that vision in the whole organization. Because that makes you already different. But, as said before, the award is big for those who have the courage to be different.