“People only change out of necessity and only recognize necessity in crisis.”
Except for Sam Walton.
So how can you become the next Walton and defy your short-sighted Darwinian scripts?
Follow two simple steps:
Step 1. Practice a technique that Clinical Psychologists call “letting the phone ring.” In this exercise, you literally refrain from answering the phone the next time it rings, and subsequently only answer it every third or fourth time. Soon, you will learn that the world doesn’t end when you ignore the here-and-now urgency of the phone, and are on your way to generalizing that principle to realize that many pressing demands on your time are not as urgent as they seem. This realization frees up time for you think about step number two
Step 2. Dream up, then carry out many small, quick experiments in changing your organization. Marvin Minsky, legendary father of Artificial Intelligence, said: “When you don’t know what to do, do lots of things.” This process of rapid trial and error on a small scale—embraced by Walmart from its beginning—is what changing before you need to change is all about. Because each of your experiments is small, it will not detract from the urgency of your “day job.”
After many such experiments, a few big wins will emerge, laying new paths for you, your employees and your company.
This technique of exploring many quick and dirty new ways of doing things may not seem to constitute visionary leadership, but it really, really……..really does.
Effective visionaries are rarely clairvoyant. Rather they get to the future faster than their contemporaries through Walton’s rapid trial and error process, and, along the way stumble upon big wins.
The great French mathematician, Henri Poincare, described the technique of creating many opportunities, then looking amongst them for the big innovations this way:
“To invent is to discern, to decide.”
Big wins that change organizations for the better rarely pop out of our brains throughproactive thought. Rather, after implementing many new ideas, our brains observe then react to the best of the concepts and turn them into big wins.