I’ve probably worked with somewhere close to 100 different organisations, from very small charities such as Game Conservancy Trust to big Corporates such as Microsoft – and everything in between!
One of my consistent observations is that processes, procedures, authority and empowerment of individuals is directly related to how confident the leaders of the organisation feel.
When business is going well, organisational confidence is high – everyone is comfortable about trying new ideas and innovating.
Conversely when times are challenging and the organisation’s confidence is low, the opposite is true. Often, as a consequence of low confidence new processes are created to make sure that decisions have additional checks and balances, and sometimes expenditure needs more a detailed business case than it did historically.
Some of this is good; all businesses must make sure that they are spending their marketing budget in the way that is right for them, but of course there is a balance to be struck.
However, a business with high organisational confidence often continues to thrive, precisely as a result of its confidence. Teams and individuals feel they can make decisions and take calculated risks without fear of consequences if results are not as successful as anticipated.
Conversely businesses with low organisational confidence struggle with decision-making. Everything has to be “perfect” before approval; the idea of failing quickly (or even failing at all) becomes unacceptable. So alongside sticking with what has been done before or is “proven”, risks are avoided, it’s generally considered better not to “raise your head above the parapet” and with all the new processes everything takes a long time…
There are three obvious ironies here:
- It’s the businesses with low confidence that do need to do things differently, to try new approaches and to learn how to overcome their challenges.
- The lack of confidence leads these businesses to focus more of their time & energy on internal processes and procedures and consequently devote less time thinking about target audience(s), existing customers and how to better engage with them.
- Often it’s only when performance significantly deteriorates that low organisational confidence businesses address the issues and realise that they need to change.Frequently they then bring in new senior people, often introduce a culture change programme to make it easier to innovate and bring new ideas to market…which is exactly where we started from in the first place!