I’ve been working on this post for some time. I’m not sure it’s going to come together the way I want, but I need to get it out there, even if it’s just to get feedback on it. That’s the point of the blog, to try things and if they work, great, if not.. Well on to the next. The idea here is that there is an alignment between the personalities of people and the personalities of organizations (which are made of people). As professionals we need to comprehend these differences, and understand how that affects the environment we spend 40-80 hours a week or more in. In this case the alignment is where people are mentally and emotionally from a temporal standpoint.
Some people live in the past. If you speak to them, the past is this grand adventure. The events were amazing. They fondly remember wonderful experiences and wish to do them again. Some organizations live this way too. Many nonprofits come to mind because it’s easy to forget the continual pressure of the present for the accomplishments of the past. There is another very scary aspect to the people who live in the past, it’s the rose colored glasses effect. If you don’t remember the challenges, you purposefully forget those issues and arguments, then you truly are doomed to not just repeat them.. Your life’s challenges.. It’s one of the reasons why the past is so grand, anything is better than ‘the now’.
Then there is the people who live in the future. They don’t pay attention to what’s going on around them. They are constantly planning for the next goal. I fall squarely into this category. I am always looking at the next big thing. I’ve got lists upon lists of what needs to come next and can never take a moment to appreciate what I have. It’s a fault I have to correct. From an organizational perspective every single wall street broker and financial analysis falls into this category. So consequently those in the organization that have to meet these goals tend to live in the future. There is never a break from it. Sometimes it’s a benefit because the whole organization is one big motivational seminar.. but sometimes it can be hugely negative, when every single employee is always overburdened to meet the quarters numbers, it’s a relentless march that inevitably leads to burnout. It can be argued that this is what is wrong with the whole of our economy.
Then there are those who live in the present. This is what I have to do right now, this instant. The problem with those that live in the present is that they don’t learn from the lessons of yesterday or plan for tomorrow. I have an older child who didn’t plan to get the ice off her windshield until she had to leave for school. It was 4 inches of solid ice so guess what, she was late to school. A great example of this from the professional world was when I witnessed bellsouth put in copper cable to repair a broken line to a customer premise. It was obvious to all involved that it would be better to put in a hybrid cable that included both fiber optics and copper. The cost difference was nearly non existent, especially when you consider the cost of time for the repair guys to go out and plow the new line. But they lived in the present, that organization simply would not spend a single penny on tomorrow.. they would only spend pennies on what the absolute need was at that moment. It wa a bad decision.
This leads us to some questions we should consider from time to time. Where does your organization live? Do the different parts of your organization live in different era’s? I have two sides of the house in my organization and one’s foot is firmly planted in the past while the other is very much forward leaning. I’m sure you’ll find it shocking that their is always conflict between the two sides.
Where do you live personally? What needs to change? If not, change, where do you need to be aware of? The same questions need to be asked about your organization. If you are always thinking and talking about how great this program was, or how much better old -insert organization name- was to new -insert organization name- then there is a problem, especially if leadership doesn’t see it that way.
Maybe you should list out what you want to do to change where you live, and how things can potentially improve if you align to where the organization lives.
..oh, wait.. that’s my thing.