The chaos of disruption needs teamwork and focus to succeed

In his book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg makes a reference to the unexpected success of Paul O’Neill, CEO of aluminum manufacturing giant, Acola.

In 1987, O’Neill was faced with the challenge of turning around the company in tough times. He didn’t make grand statements of long-term strategy or innovation investments; in fact he did just the opposite and scared off investors by focusing on a specific topic: safety.

“I knew I had to transform Alcoa. But you can’t order people to change. So I decided I was going to start by focusing on one thing. If I could start disrupting the habits around one thing, it would spread throughout the entire company.”

Paul O’Neill

It turns out that focusing on one, highly impactful habit can improve several routines — and the bottom line.

Disruption sounds abrasive, it is abrasive by nature. But as we know, in business, you either disrupt or get disrupted. People in your organization are often averse to change. Perhaps they have not been dwelling over the transformational journey quite as long as the C-Suite; after all, they have their day jobs trying to keep the wheels on the bus.

So how do we embrace change, understand the impact, and inspire from within?

Narrow your focus.

How many times have you heard: “We are going to Digitally Transform our organization”

… really, is that what employees are going to latch on to? Instead, narrow that focus in the execution plan. Frame out distinct objectives and how the proposed improvements will enrich the daily lives of those involved.

People are much more likely to get behind and adopt change when they understand why things are changing, and what’s in it for them. Often this singular focus on change, will permeate throughout the organization and inspire more acceptance and even produce more opportunity for change.

So try it.

Simplify your message, execute with focused intent, and engage with your users to make sure the game-plan is visible and actionable.

You may just be surprised how infectious positive disruption can be!


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