Letting Go & Looking Ahead



I had the great privilege to help design and launch the 2009 Midwest Forum on Talent Management last week.  By all accounts – participant feedback, faculty dialogue and the engagement of our stakeholders – we started something big; something that will last.


Did the area need one more conference?  No.  Would we benefit with a range of practitioners together?  Yes!  Could we leverage multiple associations to focus on advanced concepts and practices?  Certainly!  Will we need to change things for next year’s forum?  Oh yah!  Should we let go of what had been done for years and look ahead to something fresh and creative?  Absolutely!




“We not only cling to the past, regardless of the result, but

spend far too much time looking backwards.”




The Problem:


Technology has come to roost in many of our organizational functions and practice disciplines.  We all have mini-computers attached to our hips, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems integrating our work, and we continually update the PC systems needed for the workforce.


Have we successfully brought the same innovation to our leadership function?  Yes, we have rolled out new programs and initiatives; but have they really benefited the workforce in the way we anticipated?


Organizations finish their strategic plan, but stop meeting after 6 – 9 months.  Businesses offer training programs, but managers seldom follow-up because of their schedules.  Companies purchase new software without a stable process.  We continue offering many of the same initiatives after improving them.  Are they really what we need to meet customer needs in a dynamic world?


The Implication:


If we continue pushing what we’ve always pushed, we will continue to get the same results.  If we do the same thing over and over again and expect different results, we lose touch with reality. 

The world around us is changing rapidly, and in a very profound way.  You’ve probably heard many of the same experts as I have, who are predicting that the change we are experiencing has changed the very structure of who we are and what can be done.  Time to look forward – not backward.


Becoming Measurably Better:


So how do we become measurably better as leaders?  We decide when to let go of the things that have served us well, and decide where we need to be bold and visionary.


Allow me to share a few of the ideas that came my way during the forum this past week.  They will serve you well.


  • Stop, drop and roll.  Take the time to re-visit your strategic initiatives and business model.
  • Pick one initiative to be bold and visionary.  Take charge of your customer’s success.  Stop counting the steps and build a new system without risking it all.
  • Look upstream & ask tough questions the next time you aren’t satisfied with your results.  What could have been improved?  Were expectations clear?  Where could communication be strengthened?
  • Focus on relationships.  Organizations can provide any custom model they want for managers but in the end, failure is predictable.  Leaders derail when relationships don’t work.  Networks are the real org chart today.
  • Build in line of sight for everyone.  Be transparent.  Share the good and the bad.  Put everyone in a position to support clients and revenue goals.
  • Listen, listen, listen.  Understand that we have multiple generations working today.  Each group has strengths to offer.
  • Grow by differentiating your company and brand.  Go beyond the marketing exercise.  Live the change.  Actively manage the tension you see and feel.
  • Turn the keys now to prepare for the current upturn in the economy.


Wishing you all the best and continue welcoming your comments, feedback and input.