Becoming productively neurotic

The true progress an organization makes, including both tangible and intangible assets, involves so many factors that our understanding of that progress is always approximate at best. You may increase your revenue in a given timeframe against a previous value, but the value of your brand, the future purchase intent of your customers, their loyalty, all play into your success… and not all of these things can be measured appropriately. Given this fact, it’s probably true that your organization has a tendency to either assume your performance is to some extent better or worse than it actually is. So, I ask the question, “In an attempt to create ever increasing corporate performance, are you further ahead to err on the side of assuming the best or worst about your performance?”

In an interview with Jim Collins, a key Walmart executive once said ”We’re the largest corporation with the largest inferiority complex”. I love this concept. An organization that finds a healthy way to maintain a performance gap between what you are, and what you could become, understands motivation. Ford had a vision to democratize the automobile, and they did. They changed the world in a short period of time. Once they achieved their vision, they didn’t set another one. They closed the performance gap. This left room and time for someone else (GM) to come along and surpass them for a time.

Of the two options, the greater risk is that you become an organization that believes they are making more progress than they actually are. This results in complacency, because how could it not? Satisfaction closes the dissonance between what you want and what you have. When that happens, motivation disappears. Ahhhhh, satisfaction … Incrementalism creeps in, and your ability to be strategically agile slips away.

Instead, becoming and maintaining a “productively neurotic” state wherein you endlessly push for continual improvement and ever increasing alignment to a centrally unifying corporate strategy drives other behaviours… behaviours where you continually and relentlessly improve. This is the path of the organization that will create the future. These are the organizations that are tough to keep up with.

How tough to keep up with is your organization?

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