Personal vulnerability is considered a liability for leaders. Conventional wisdom holds that it is difficult to lead or negotiate or make demands from a position of perceived weakness. In business, vulnerability is generally seen as weakness. Recent headlines scream for business to avoid vulnerability or suffer the consequences: “30% of Auto Parts Retailers’ Business Is Vulnerable to Amazon,” “Five Industries Most Vulnerable to Digital Disruption,” “Apple Users Are Also Vulnerable to WannaCry-Type Attacks.” Having a strategy or a model or a position that is susceptible to attack is the last thing investors, executives, and employees want.
I confess to being a perfectionist in a state of constant rehabilitation. I love things done right. And I mean ‘my’ kind of right. The kind of right that is so insanely satisfying to me that the absence of it leaves me bereft. I think I had an inkling that this wasn’t healthy when people who were not in constant pursuit of this demanding level of excellence, succeeded anyway. What?! How could they? They weren’t up to my standards.
According to Josh Bersin, demographic upheaval coupled with digital technology has greatly contributed to a rapid increase in the rate of change. This accelerated rate is, in turn, leading to new social contracts and business considerations. Bersin is responsible for long-term strategy at Bersin by Deloitte and is frequently published in Forbes.com and Chief Learning Officer magazine. He cites an MIT study revealing that 90% of CEOs said their company is experiencing disruption. Ninety percent! Given these turbulent times, the conversation about culture is more relevant than ever.
To “do less, better” isn’t something most leaders and their organizations embrace. The seemingly more attractive (and logical) option is to do more and more – the theory being the more markets, products, and businesses a company engages in, the better the results. This is not true.
Do Less Better is a strategy and a culture; it’s also the name of my book. And for organizations and their leaders, the proponents of this discipline worship focus, loathe complexity, and enjoy success.