Does business transformation continuously evolve in the background, or does it respond to moments of inspiration that come from the strangest of places, like the beach?
Time out of a business can be very productive in the bigger picture. I wrote about this last year, with an angle on wellbeing and just taking a break from the pressures of leadership over Christmas. The freedom to think, or plan from the beach, may be more of a summer thing.
My own experience
I once worked for a business leader who found a way to make September the busiest month of the transformation calendar, and it made perfect sense at the time.
He took time out in August, and spent the quiet time reflecting on the business and reading up on the world around it. Steve Jobs was famous for his holiday inspirations, as reported by Tony Fadell, the engineer behind the iPod and iPhone revolutions. In my case it wasn’t five or six calls a day, but the well anticipated “I’ve been thinking….” conversation when he told me about his break, and the things he wanted to do over the next year.
The reporting cycle contributed to this seasonality. Our financial years were calendar years, and so the half-year report was due in September. The business commentary that went with the half-year numbers also refined our strategy and priorities, so naturally embraced what we were excited about at the time. Clearly, the new path should be shared through that channel, so time was tight. This actually helped, because we had to keep the messaging simple, compelling and robust. It became much easier to put the value proposition to the external stakeholders and eased the internal selling no end.
Turning inspiration into change
Most important is that the inspiration and insight is captured, validated and then acted upon. Not every holiday inspiration will stand the test of scrutiny when brought back into the business. Some will be weeded out as fantasy, written off to the local wine, or just be too big to jump into right now. The better ones need to be shared, sold and turned into actionable plans. The rest of the team must come up to speed quickly, buy into the new ideas, understand the impacts, and put them into action before the clock ticks too fast towards Christmas.
If you work to a calendar year, this timing also works if planning and changes can be put into practice quickly so the new year begins in the new condition.
Make the most of the opportunity
The holiday period is a very fertile time for leaders to detach and work ‘on’ the business rather than keep their heads down working ’in’ the business. The ideas could be some of the most valuable product of the year. Putting them into practice, though, doers not come from the beach. It can be hard work, and will rely on the extended team, who will be equally busy catching up after their own breaks. Looking outward for specialist support for business change management may be the second most valuable choice made this summer.
If you have already been inspired this summer, or think you may be as you pack up for your break, then please get in touch and let’s talk about how that moment of clarity on a faraway beach can be put to work.